Magpie breeding season is here, so look out for swooping magpies over the next couple of months.
Magpie breeding season is here, so look out for swooping magpies over the next couple of months.

Ever wondered how the professionals catch magpies?

MAGPIES play an important role within our ecosystem, but during the summer months some of their behaviour can be down right scary.

Although magpies rarely pose a physical threat, sometimes the aggressive birds have to be removed.

Propest Rockhampton owner Ben Hansen is a magpie remover who is licensed with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP).

Ben said although he's had less call outs than he thought he would this year, schools remain a hot-spot for swooping activity.

"We haven't had as many as I thought we were going to,” Ben said.

"They're usually pretty serious, most of the jobs we do are primary schools.

"When you're talking 60 kids in one little area and the toilet's in the middle, they're all getting swooped when they come back from the toilet.

"There was a couple of contacts with the cheek, stuff like that.”

Moving a magpie isn't as easy as driving it down the road and setting it free, EHP has strict guidelines when it comes to their release.

"You've got to take them for a minimum of 50kms as they fly and release them not within 10kms of another township,” Ben said.

"The best way to catch an aggressive magpie is with another male magpie.

"You take a big male into his territory and he fluffs up, runs around and does his little dance and starts attacking through the cage.

"Once you get the attention of them you wrap the cage up, force them on top and then there's a little catchment trap underneath.”

Despite all the talk of swoopings, Ben said it's important to remember not all magpies are dangerous.

"When you talk about magpies that swoop, you're only talking about 7% of the population,” Ben said.

"There's only a small amount that do.

”Because it's a native animal it's preferred they're not disturbed if possible.”

Magpie facts:

  • They recognise themselves in mirrors
  • Despite popular belief, they don't like shiny things
  • A group of magpies is called a tiding
  • The life expectancy of a magpie is 25 years
  • Their calls can vary over four octaves
  • They are monogamous birds who mate for life


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