PARAMEDICS have urged locals to remain vigilant after a young boy was injured by a magpie this week.
In what they say is the first magpie-related incident they've attended in NSW this season, paramedics were called to Gunnedah to treat a seven-year-old boy with a head wound on Wednesday.
While magpies are usually friendly, they become protective of their nests during breeding season, which is normally over by the end of September.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Norm Spalding said injuries caused by swooping birds could range from cuts to the head and pecks to the ears, to more serious outcomes, especially for cyclists.
“Every year NSW Ambulance receives calls for people suffering injuries from swooping birds and it
can be very upsetting, especially for children,” Inspector Spalding said.
He said cyclists were of particular concern because attacking birds could cause them to lose balance and crash, resulting in a range of injuries, from open wounds to broken bones.
Cyclists were advised to continue riding until they were out of the bird’s territory or, better still, walk the bike out. Most magpies will only swoop within 50m of their nest.
Inspector Spalding said the best response for any person, be they cyclist or pedestrian, was to keep calm. Despite the urge to panic, this can provoke the birds even further. To avoid attacks, keep away from known nesting areas during breeding season.
Inspector Spalding said if people suffered bleeding from an open wound, they should apply pressure to the area and ensure it is kept clean. Consider seeing a doctor who might recommend a tetanus shot.
“Of, course, if the injury is more serious, call Triple (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance.”
Tips for surviving magpie swooping season:
• travel in groups where possible – swooping birds will generally only target individuals;
• carry an open umbrella above your head;
• wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat;
• cyclists should walk rather than ride their bikes through magpie territory – or have a flag on the
back of the bike that’s higher than your head – swooping birds will attack the highest point;
• avoid acting aggressively (eg waving arms or shouting) – this proves you are a threat;
• avoid making eye contact with magpies;
• walk quickly but do not run. Be careful, keep your eyes out for magpies and if you are really
concerned, place your folded arms above your head to protect your head and eye area;
• try to keep a watch on the magpie. Magpies usually swoop from behind and it is known that
magpies are much less likely to swoop if they are being watched directly; and
• do not return after an encounter. Magpies will attack the same people again and again.