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Magpie season is about to begin, and bird experts say there is only one way to prevent an attack this spring.
Sean Dooley, Birdlife Australia’s National Public Affairs Manager, told FEMAIL it’s imperative to befriend your local flock before the mating season begins.
He explained that most magpies that dive are male and simply defend their young from danger, but if you feed them you are no longer considered a threat.
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Magpie season has begun and bird experts say there is only one way to attack this spring
‘From a magpie’s perspective, the people who feed them clearly fall into the friendly category! It’s almost unheard of for magpies to aggressively prey on people who feed them,” he said.
And while feeding native animals is a controversial tactic, Dooley said that as long as it’s done safely, there’s little to no harm done to it.
The bird expert suggests custom commercial seed mixes and dog foods as the perfect treats for your local magpies.
Like us, junk food isn’t good for your health, so try to avoid most processed foods. Too much salt, sugar and fat is not good, so try to avoid things like sausage meat, bread or bacon,” he said.
‘Even minced meat is not ideal, as there is a risk that the shreds will end up in the side of the beak and become a source of infection. But the most important thing is that minced meat doesn’t really contain the right nutrients for magpies that are deficient in, for example, calcium.’
He backs up his suggestion to feed the birds by citing other animal experts.
“There is very little evidence to show that Australian native birds ever become dependent on feed. As a leading expert, Professor Darryl Jones says, you don’t give them their main meal, but rather a cup of tea and a biscuit,” he said.
There’s more to think about when feeding magpies than what they should be eating, he explained.
This man was shot in a park in western Sydney last season
‘Make sure the place where you feed them is clean. Birds are not very good at social distancing and the spread of disease is probably the biggest risk when feeding birds. So you need to keep your feeding area clean and disinfected as regularly as possible,” he said.
Male magpies are the quintessential aggressors, according to Dooley, and will begin to dive once their chicks begin to hatch.
This behavior will last for about three weeks until the fry are able to defend themselves.
‘But it can differ per magpie. And of course, with different pairs nesting at different times, when one magpie stops diving, another may just start,” he added.
Not all magpies dive either, Mr. Dooley said only about ten percent of male magpies dive.
“Having a magpie taking a nosedive is usually an indication that they’ve been mistreated by humans in the past, so it’s a year-long project to keep them from getting shot,” he said.
The bird repeatedly bombed the man who ran away
He recommends years of friendship with local birds – rather than prioritizing them during the breeding season.
Mr Dooley’s comments come after Japan’s Ambassador to Australia Shingo Yamagami tweeted a photo of herself preparing for the diving season.
The ambassador wore a helmet with chopsticks in the side and a ‘magpie’ jersey in an attempt to match the birds on his bike.
“Dear magpies, shall we not even call it a truce this diving season? Look, I’m trying to get even more into it,” he wrote.
People in the thread also suggested feeding the birds.
“Feed them, Mr. Ambassador, the news is going around and their friends usually leave you alone…” said one person.
‘Give them dried cat food. They love it and will never shoot you again,’ said another.’
Other tried and true methods include wearing eyes on the top of your head and avoiding areas where the birds nest if possible.
September is the peak season, but it can start as early as July, depending on the weather.