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The Forum > General Discussion > Magpie Season

Magpie Season

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I cannot believe what I have just witnessed on TV News:

It is Magpie season again and various shots of Maggies swooping at cyclists etc, followed by a chappie titled "Wildlife Helper" who states that if called, about swooping and pecking Magpies, he will trap the "offending bird" and relocate it up to 60 klm away!

Do these clowns not realise that a nest of Magpies involves a female and a male partner! They select a site and build a nest, lay eggs, then take turns sitting until the eggs hatch. After hatching they take turns searching for food and then returning to regurgitate food for the chicks.

When the adult birds consider it safe enough, they both fly around searching for food to feed the chicks, and this continues until the chicks are mature enough to take to the air!

It should be remembered that Magpies are territorial and generally mate for life!

At any time these relatively harmless birds can recognise any threat to their nests and hatchlings and swoop and feign attack against any perceived enemy. Normally contact is not made, however like all moving objects an occasional overestimation of distance results and PANIC ensues!

These birds will NOT peck out the eyes of children, and again any contact is usaually accidental by the bird swooping too low, but is simply a bluff to frighten away perceived marauders!

The disquieting thing about this issue is that by "removing" a bird up to 60 klm away, can result in the chicks starving to death or being taken by a bird of prey!

I live in an area occupied by generations of Magpies, occasionally I have had to rear a chick as a result of accidental premature expulsion from a nest. These birds respond exceptionally well to human contact, ARE exceptionally intelligent and should be treated accordingly.

With a multitude of birds here, we have a daily feeding ritual, scrap raw meat and bread! The different families integrate well without any obvious display of malice and the young become very friendly, and breed their own families upon maturity!
Posted by Cuphandle, Thursday, 18 September 2008 6:35:17 PM
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Myth #1: Magpies are pair-bonded and mate for life

While some magpies do mate in pairs, many do not and in fact can be in breeding groups of up to 20 adults.

http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/adjunct/snr0704/snr07042j.pdf

Myth #2: physical contact during an attack is always accidental.

While it is true that most attacks do not make physical contact, it is quite clear that when physical contact is made (by a relatively few number of birds) many of these are definitely non-accidental and occur in a regular pattern. (see link above)
Contact attacks often involve "hitting the intruder with its breast or wings or, more commonly, pecking the cheeks, ears or neck with the
bill at the point of closest contact. These attacks are the regular type used in attacking cyclists. Almost all of these attacks are from behind the intruder.Much less often, certain birds also attack the
intruderís face directly from in front. Our observations and the recollections of victims suggest, very strongly, that these birds are deliberately targeting the eyes. During 1998, from a total of 453 reports (for about 430 aggressive birds), 8.5% of complainants mentioned some form of injury. All of these involved the
drawing of blood, usually from minor injuries to the neck, back, shoulders, ears or face. Thirteen complainants specified eye or near -eye injuries, and in 7 cases, the injuries resulted from children falling off bicycles while attempting to avoid the attack."

Myth #3: Removing the aggressive bird will result in the the chicks dying or being left unprotected.

This has found to not be the case.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/scribblygum/July2002/#c
And in fact it is far more preferable than shooting them, which occurs more often when removal has not even been considered.
Posted by Bugsy, Thursday, 18 September 2008 9:05:07 PM
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Myth #4: Wildlife feeding will result in less aggressive behaviour towards humans.

While it does appear to be true that certain aggressive birds can be "trained" to not attack particular people that it previously regarded as a threat, this is specific to the person feeding them and doesn't carry over to humans generally.
http://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&id=OzgLUUrAnk0C&dq=Magpie+Alert:+learning+to+live+with+a+Wild+Neighbour&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=PFr2axYnyn&sig=xsqyOwqqbYQG91IJScy2tYWta0w&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result

Myth#5: "Wildlife Helpers" and animal welfare officers are clowns.

In fact, these people often know what they are doing and what the consequences of their actions are. They also do not generally advocate wildlife feeding for very good reasons.

Myth #6: Using exclamation marks at the end of every sentence adds emphasis and makes you appear completely sane.
Posted by Bugsy, Thursday, 18 September 2008 9:05:25 PM
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I worship and respect the Magpie.

They would swoop my ex-husband and not me - gotta admire that. He used to abuse and physically assault me; these birds are like dogs they can detect hostility and fear. Bullies always bristle with both.

I now live in Ranges, have done so for 8 years - not once have I been attacked by Magpies.

They are very smart and all you have to do is leave them alone - although the occasional piece of 'roo is always received with magpie style gratitude.
Posted by Fractelle, Friday, 19 September 2008 1:50:31 PM
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Fractelle,
Good reason to like magpies. We have a colony here and it gets on my wick a bit to see the young, almost full grown, still calling out for their mum and dad to feed them. I like the way they fly flat out and slam air brakes on at last thing, on landing. I recall being attacked as a kid while riding my bike near a row of big pines. We never had bike helmets. Later some mothers made helmets from ice cream containers. Magpies here frequently attack eagles which is a bit like watching fighters attacking a bomber in WW2 movies.

Spur winged plovers were the worst to attack. They came fast and low from behind and cold gash with wing spur on side of head. Not to mention scare tripe out of you.
Posted by Banjo, Friday, 19 September 2008 2:32:38 PM
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No wonder you people are such suckers for a good global warming con. You invest magpies with a character, & nature you would like them to have, & then believe it's true.

Anyone who has watched magpies will have seen then drive their male offspring off, as they mature, but long before they are mature enough to threaten the male breeder.

They will have seen them attack any magpies, other than their female ofspring, which enter their territory. They will also have seen them attack & kill any rival birds, of other species, with similar feeding habits, paritcularly butcher birds.

Stop kidding yourself about nature. Magpies don't have tax payer funded welfare. If their is not enough food in their territory, they die. The only have a territory for as long as they can defend it, & this they do, most brutally, as nature has taught them they must do.

I'm a bit more interested in the local kids, than magpies. If one were to become dangerous around here, it would not last long. A kid falling off a bike, or horse is dangerous, particularly with passing cars.

Fortunately, our magpies are friendly. At least half of the people around here feed them, intentionally, or not. "Ours" are waiting in a tree for the cat to be put out, in the morning, & fed. They will settle for what the cat leaves, but my daughter had 4 generations eating out of her hand, & I throw bits in the air, for them to take on the wing. They are quite good at it, but not a patch on the butcher birds which come for a hand out, only after the magies have left.

I like & respect magpies, but I will not have some clown tell me they are more valuable than my family, & friends. I reserve the right to defend my family, just as you suggest is the right of the magpie. So, rogue magpie, watch out around here.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 19 September 2008 3:23:40 PM
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