Making friends with Australian Magpies

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

For the past several years, the magpies living on our property would swoop Julia and me whenever we would go outside. If you've never heard of swooping, just imagine a large bird with a very sharp beak flying at high velocity at your head and only turning away at the very last second. Sometimes, they don't turn, and can cause serious harm. Thankfully, we've only been frightened instead of hurt from our local birds.

A group of Magpies are called a tiding (s), a charm, a flock, a gulp, a murder, a mischief, a tittering, a conventicle, a tribe, or a congregation of magpies. During their mating season, I think the best description is a 'murder' of magpies, because I feel like I'm living in an Alfred Hitchcock film.

My husband, Chris never gets swooped. Whenever he mows the lawn, a group of magpies follows him behind the tractor and collects the dead or injured bugs and lizards that are left in his wake. Magpies are intelligent birds. They can recognise facial and body types and will decide if you are friend or foe. Our best opportunity to change their feelings about us is to give them a little bit of food.

The type of food we give them is important though. Birds should not be fed bread, because it can cause mineral deficiencies that result in their beaks weakening and wasting away. A better choice is to feed them cheese. They seem to love Aussie tasty cheese, which is similar to American cheddar but without the yellow dye.

I go into it a bit more in the video above.

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