21 Stories About Magpies That'll Show The World Just How Badass They Are
"Magpies are not just intelligent and fierce protectors of their nests, but they have good taste in music."
If you live in Australia, chances are that either you or somebody you know has been the victim of a magpie swoop.
As per usual, our international friends have plenty of questions about Australian customs — including this particular time of year we call "swooping season". So, Reddit user u/Jussel53 — who's from Germany — posted this thread asking Australians for their experiences with magpies.
And boy did we deliver. Here are some of our favourite submissions...
1. "I had an awesome family of magpies in my backyard. I hate spiders and was gardening one day and uncovered a large wolf spider dragging a big, white egg sac. I jumped back and squeaked in surprise. One of my magpies was casually observing me, they swooped in, ate the spider then chewed up the sac for dessert. My hero."
2. "My brother lost most of his vision in one eye from a magpie attack — he's also an idiot, so he pissed them off and probably deserved it."
3. "Magpies are intelligent birds who sing beautifully. I feed my locals with food scraps and dry cat food, and never have any problems with them."
4. "I've been swooped numerous times while riding my bike. It hurts like shit, but I've since taken time to get to know the local magpies outside of breeding season, so they recognise me."
5. "I've only encountered one really stroppy bird that I used to walk near when going to work — it was near a school, so I expect it hated everyone. It made contact a few times and drew blood, just scratches, but head wounds bleed easily. These days, I walk around my suburb with a bag of meal worms and feed the locals and they leave me alone during spring."
6. "I've been chased many times on my bike rides — they're a serious threat. Someone lost an eye this season too. They have very sharp beaks. Other than that, they're nice birds that you can train and will eat out of your hand. I love to hear their morning calls."
7. "I honestly get swooped more often by magpie larks and noisy miners. But if a maggie doesn't like you, they'll fly real close and snap their beaks to cause a fright. If they really don't like you, they've been known to bite ears."
8. "A few months ago I found a young magpie outside on the terrace looking into my house. It made eye contact with me and kept making noises, which reminded me of puppies whining when they are hungry and expecting to be fed."
"I didn’t feed it in case the bird grew up to expect food from everyone, but later it came around to my window while I was practicing Beethoven. Magpies are not just intelligent and fierce protectors of their nests, but they have good taste in music."
9. "I was attacked by a magpie when I was walking near Point Walter in the city of Perth. Magpie swooped down on me without warning and it struck me in the right ear with its beak. The magpie strike caused my ear to bleed and my first thought was that I had been hit by an air rifle pellet. I then looked upwards and saw a magpie flying back to a tall eucalyptus tree."
10. "I actually love magpies. They have a beautiful song, and the magpies in my backyard come up to me and my kids and just stand near us and watch what we’re doing. They even follow us when we move around. We never feed them, so I don’t think they want food. They seem curious and social. They just want to hang with us."
"In spring time, magpies that don’t know you can be aggressive, so you have to be careful at the park. But apparently once they know a human and remember them, they won’t attack because they know you’re not a threat to their nest. I’ve never been attacked near my own home."
11. "I've fed and made friends with the local pair for over five years. They 'introduce' us to their new chicks each year. They're smart birds, who I believe remember kindness and recognise us as individuals. I've never been swooped by them."
12. "I love getting swooped. As a kid I’d ride back and forth on the road outside my house and get fucked up."
13. "I love them. We have a huge gang of magpies who run our block and nobody in my family has ever been swooped. I make sure my kids don’t chase them and we occasionally feed them and we all live happily ever after. There are several ‘beware of swooping magpies’ signs on my street, so I guess not everyone has a good relationship with them."
"They do like to remind us that they're in charge by either standing on our front steps and watching us through the fly screen or slowly walking across the road in front of our car, so we have to stop and just wait for them to pass."
14. "Currently sitting out the back having a cuppa while listening to them warble in the surrounding trees. We've got three different families of maggies that come in at differently times during the day to say hello. About 12 in each family. The family living in our biggest tree are very tame and will eat from our hands."
"They're a pretty smart bird and quickly learn who they can trust. Attacks are very, very, very rare — I personally have never even been swooped, let alone attacked and I've lived near them my entire 40 years."
15. "There was only one magpie on a particular street when I was a kid that would come up beside your head and peck at the corners of your eyes — even if you had sunnies on — and peck at your neck. If you didn't have a helmet on, it would peck right into your head. Drew blood every time. Didn't matter how fast you were riding. Some kids just wore full motorcycle helmets for protection!"
"It was in the same street every year for a few years, but back when I was a kid (a long time ago) the police would come and shoot troublesome ones. This one got shot after four years. I think nowadays they call in someone to relocate the magpie and its nest."
16. "Never been swooped in my life — have had a fair few magpie ~friends~ though, built a mutual understanding and we chill with each other."
17. "If you don’t bother them and if you feed them, they happily coexist and even come to greet you. They’re very intelligent and social. But if you antagonise them they don’t forget that either. They even remember what dogs harass them and don’t bother the dogs that don’t."
18. "I think everyone has been swooped by a magpie at one time or another. Mostly it's just a warning and it can be scary if you're not expecting it. I don't like it when they clack their beaks when they swoop."
19. "I can clearly remember the days as I look back over my childhood, riding my bike to school in the spring every year. My heart suddenly leaping into my chest as the all too familiar flash of black and white wings, the rush of wind and the crack as the bloody magpie collided time after time into my helmet, swooping down on me."
"I would ride my bike as fast as I could to get through the valley of magpie torture. Year after year of destroyed helmets and traumatic memories...I am so cautious now walking through a park around magpie season, always ready to run to avoid the attack."
20. "I think we've all been swooped and it scares the shit out of me every time, because holy shit they get close. But they're also very, very smart and will learn your face if you're near their territory a lot — and they'll stop giving a shit when they know you're chill. We used to have a family of them living in a big tree in my front yard, which was on the corner of the street."
"They never once swooped anybody that lived in my street, or the postman (which wasn't always the same person, I think they knew the motorbike), but would bomb the shit out of anyone they didn't know. If you have some near the house and you leave some food out for them from time to time they can get really tame."
21. And finally, "They generally are really chill birds who are comfortable around familiar humans. That being said, when they are nesting they can be extremely territorial. My neighbour, who is in his yard everyday and has been for more than 10 years (with the same magpie family in the bush behind), was swooped and needed two stitches from the gash behind his ear."
"He somehow thought the incident was more fun than terrifying and tried to get the magpie to swoop again, walking up and down the yard and jumping whilst wearing a bike helmet. However, they never did. This was a couple of years ago and I still sometimes laugh and think that the magpie was just having a bad day and needed to let off some steam."
Do you have any magpie stories you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.