SPRING may still be a few weeks away but magpie swooping season has already begun in some parts of the region.
The native Australian birds are notorious in the spring months as they fly, clacking their beak, towards people crossing through their territory in an effort to protect their newborn chicks.
A Bathurst resident recently reported that they were surprised to be swooped so early in the year on the Magpie Alert! website.
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The swoop occurred on Vale Road in South Bathurst, a very popular route with the region's cyclists.
"If you're a solo cyclist beware of this aggressive magpie. He let me pass then without warning or sound, he swooped from behind hitting my head and neck while squawking profusely," a person using the name Radio Addict posted.
"This one physically hits you so it may be capable of drawing blood.
VIDEO: A magpie swooping in the Central West
"I was attacked last year with this one and it's more aggressive this time, perhaps it remembers me and has a set against me for some reason."
In Orange a Magpie Alert user called Paul.F reported he had been swooped while riding his bicycle on Mitchell Highway in Glenroi.
"Magpie swooped from short pines heading into Orange," he posted.
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A National Parks and Wildlife Service spokeswoman said magpies breed between July and November and are very protective of their chicks.
"Magpies start breeding as soon as conditions are suitable including when weather begins to warm up," she said.
"Some, but not all, magpies swoop anyone they see as an intruder in their territory.
"In the vast majority of cases the swooping is simply bluff however, sometimes birds can strike people causing injuries.
"This protective behaviour lasts only a few weeks, so be prepared to avoid them, or risk being injured."
Magpies are a protected species and it is illegal to kill them, collect their eggs, or harm their young.
MagpieAlert! allows people to log on and record where they have experienced a swooping, details about the attack and any injuries suffered.
What to do if you encounter a swooping magpie
- Do not stop - walk away quickly
- Eye contact will make the magpie less likely to swoop
- Wear sunglasses on the back of your head
- Wear a hat with a pair of eyes drawn on the back
- Wear a bicycle or skateboard helmet, or even an ice cream container or cardboard box
- Carry an open umbrella or stick above your head (but do not wave it).
If you feel the bird is dangerous, contact the ranger at your nearest national park office.
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