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November 2023

The Surprising Ways to Stop Magpie Swooping


Why Do Magpies Swoop?

You just need to know something fascinating about them…

It’s the clacking of the beak for me. In fact, it’s often the only warning we get before a magpie swoops down and connects with the top of our head as we attempt to take the dog and run or cycle past. But rather than being anything vindictive or even territorial, that swooping (which is only performed by males!) has a very reasonable explanation.

It’s just a guy defending his chicks. That’s right, protecting a nest from someone they see as a threat accounts for 99% of all swooping. And almost all swoopers are male.

How to Stop Magpies from Swooping?

The key to ending swooping is knowing something special about magpies. You see, they all have a gift for remembering faces. It’s thought they can remember over 1000 different people faces and whether they’re a ‘friendly’ or a threat. It’s why it’s incredibly rare to be swooped in your own backyard. They know who you are! But if they don’t know you, they may swoop on suspicion.

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But here’s how to achieve peace in two easy ways.

First of all, at a safe distance, stand your ground. Then, when you can see the magpie, take off your hat and show them your friendly face - keeping your sunglasses on for safety initially. Let them see you, read your good intentions and then move on. Using umbrellas or lunging at them only inflames the situation and makes them truly believe you’re a problem.

The second option is a bit of a cheat, but it will work. You can offer a small piece of mince or even a piece of dog food (soaked in some water). This is chequebook diplomacy but considering the challenges many adult magpies face feeding their family, we’ll allow it…once. By helping the magpies, you’ll be off their swoop list for life.

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Dr Chris


Dr Chris Brown

Dr Chris Brown is an Australian Vet, television presenter and author. Best known for his television series Bondi Vet, he is also the founder of Drool – a company which champions quality ingredients and hand-picked supplements for healthy pet treats

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