How to deal with Australian magpies swooping chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by SeptemberQuail, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. SeptemberQuail

    SeptemberQuail Chillin' With My Peeps

    385
    19
    103
    Oct 10, 2012
    Australia
    My chicken Cookie has been living on her own for quite some time and has developed an irrational fear of magpies. Just the sight of one, even when its far away, would cause poor Cookie to go sprinting back to the coop like some racing car (just watching her turn sharp corners. woah shes swift). They would come by every once in a while and swoop her. Its only one magpie each time though, but I'm not sure if its the same one or not because I think there's a family of 6 that hang around the neighbourhood. Thankfully, no blood has been drawn (yet). Coco's (new chicken) been swooped as well but will still continue to free range afterwards. Cookie won't stay around for long once she sees the black and white bird. I think the magpie's are getting a little braver as well as even when Cookie is near our feet, the magpies are still willing to swoop her. They don't have a specific time of day, or season to do it. Its happened through winter as well. Whether they're standing on the roof, telephone line, neighbour's roof, garage or fence, they'll always take a chance to swoop my chickens.

    Before we got Coco, Cookie would be too afraid to free range (when we first got Cookie, she would free-range around front-yard and backyard herself) and would stay to her area behind the garage where the coop was and would only come out to eat a bit of grass when someone from my family came outside and would run back to her area once we went back inside. Now that we bought her a buddy, she's more willing to follow Coco around and free-range more often, but she won't go alone.

    I'm not sure where the magpies live, but I know for a fact that its not near where my chickens normally free range (in the backyard). There's a large gum tree in-front of my neighbours house and a large pine tree in-front of my other neighbour's house but I don't see any nests or anything from what I can see from my house in my neighbour's trees. We don't have any large tree's in our yard. What's even worse is that this season is swooping season, so its the time of year when magpies will attack anyone or anything it sees, so I'm worried for my own safety as well.

    TL;DR
    (sorry, I tend to type a lot)

    Any ideas on how to deal with them without hurting them? And why are they swooping in the first place? Are they hungry? The swooping doesn't happen too often, but its still annoying and they don't seem to be stopping anytime soon.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2014
  2. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

    4,766
    572
    281
    Aug 29, 2012
    Australia
    You need to make friends with them if you don't want to be swooped. We had 13 living in our yard last year and they co-exist with both us and the chickens. The kids fed them for about a month till I decided I was over thirteen magpies pooping on my car and they needed to move out lol. We haven't fed them since but they still don't bother us. They know we aren't a danger.

    [​IMG]
    Excuse the mess we were putting a pool in. There were more up on the eave out of camera range.

    We are just considered part of the gang I think so they don't swoop any of us and therefore I think the chickens by association because the chickens are part of our family. I'm not planning to trust them with our new baby chicks though. Think they might look more like dinner than part of the family lol

    They are the most amazing birds when you get to know them. Almost puppy like in behaviour. I've seen them wrestle and throw one another over their backs into forward rolls.

    They swoop because they are very territorial and anything in their territory that they don't accept as ok is a threat to their nests and babies.

    My mum used to walk down a local track where everyone wore bike helmets to protect themselves from the swooping magpies. She instead just carried some bread and would throw it to them as she approached their tree and they soon came to recognise her and she never got swooped.
    As kids we fed our local family and never got swooped (in fact I've never ever been swooped), the neighbours kids got swooped walking past the same tree we could with no problems. They are very smart and recognise faces.

    I tend to forget that they can be a problem till we have a visitor too scared to walk past them up to our verandah lol. Who needs a guard dog :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2014

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by