Tasmanian magpies don’t swoop …

Tasmanian magpies don’t swoop …

but no-one knows why!

Posted on 11.10.2019

Tasmanian magpies are very polite. Of the almost 3,000 reported attacks so far in 2019, only one was in the island state.While mainland Australians go to great lengths to avoid being swooped, the magpies in Tasmania barely bat an eyelid at the state’s human inhabitants.

So why don’t Tasmanian magpies swoop?

Relaxed maggies

Magpies are native to Tasmania and are abundant across the state, though exact numbers are unknown.

“For whatever reason Tasmanian magpies don’t swoop in the same way that mainland magpies swoop,” BirdLife Tasmania ornithologist Eric Woehler said.

Dr Woehler said it was unclear whether it was to do with Tasmania not having as many magpies in urban areas like other parts of the country.

“Whether it’s just simply that they are a bit more chill down here and a bit less stressed about people or that they don’t breed close to people, which brings out this defence behaviour, we don’t know,” he said.

He said the few reports of swooping magpies in Tasmania were usually because a bird had been harassed.

“When we have had records in the past of kids being swooped it turns out the kids were throwing rocks at them or something and the birds are simply being aggravated rather than it being a natural behaviour,” Dr Woehler said.


Key points:

  • Of all the magpie attacks reported so far this year, 0.03 per cent were in Tasmania
  • A bird expert says incidents in the state are usually the result of provocation
  • It’s possible that Tasmanian magpies may simply be” a bit more chill” than their mainland cousins

“We’ve known for many, many years that our birds aren’t aggressive like the mainland ones,”

Georgie Burgess
ABC News




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