Magpie Attack Season Is Here And We Need To Talk Survival Plans

Fun fact: magpies remember your face.


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Spring has sprung, the weather’s delightful, and the death birds from hell are back with a very literal vengeance.

That’s right — magpie season has started early this year, and the aerial menaces are not fucking around. In the first four days of September alone, life-saving website Magpie Alert, which runs a crowdsourced interactive map of magpie incidents, has received 121 reports of magpie attacks around the country.

If, like my smug coworker, you’ve never been swooped by a magpie, this is not a time to be complacent. Springtime is magpie nesting season, and adult magpies go absolutely berserk in defence of the tiny adorable balls of fluff that will one day grow up to become fully-fledged dive-bombing death machines. Case in point: magpie attacks in the past have led to hospital admissions for cuts, eye damage and even fractures.

So what can you do about it? A magpie expert told the ABC last week that we should just try making friends with the birds seeing as they, ah, remember faces. 

Unfortunately, another expert noted that this can backfire, given that if you mess up and do “something as minor as looking in the direction of the nest” the magpie will also remember that and pursue you with a vengeance due to their “low tolerance threshold”.

The government, meanwhile, issues a series of magpie safety recommendations including wearing a helmet or other sturdy hat. If you don’t own a hat, they genuinely suggest wearing an ice cream container or cardboard box on your head instead, which has the added benefit of being extremely on-trend.

Other government recommendations include carrying an umbrella or stick above your head when you go outdoors, though they warn that you should not actually swing this at a magpie because it will enrage it and provoke an attack.

It’s also against the law to kill or harm magpies, but seeing as anyone who provokes one with a stick will already have been brutally killed by the bird itself this is probably a lesser concern.

Honestly, our recommendation is to just stay indoors for the entirety of spring, or failing that, keep one eye on Magpie Alert and meticulously adjust your walking routes to avoid the kill zones. You can even receive tweet notifications, which are so regular they’ll make you look really popular as well as helping you avoid certain death. A win-win, if you ask us.

Feature image: Roman Joos/Flickr CC.