Aussie state where magpies don’t swoop

A bloody magpie attack on a Victorian man last week made headlines across the country and got everyone talking.

James Glindemann was sitting on a bench eating when a magpie swooped on him in Sale in eastern Victoria on Tuesday, attacking both his eyes.

But the incident has left people again wondering why attacks are being reported across the country but never in Tasmania.

2GB host Ben Fordham discussed the urban myth on radio this morning.

"You know when you hear something and you think that can't be true?," he told his listeners.

"Well, over the weekend a mate of mine by the name of Bruno claimed that in Tasmania magpies don't swoop and I thought - this is another Bruno classic fib, or a made up tale.

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There has only been one magpie attack in Tasmania this year. Picture: Magpie Alert
There has only been one magpie attack in Tasmania this year. Picture: Magpie Alert


"Well it turns out he's right. We've checked it out and it's true.

"No one knows why. Of the 3000 reported attacks in 2019, only one is listed from Tasmania and according to Tassies, they don't swoop in Tasmania."

Fordham went on to talk about the attack on Mr Glidemann, 68, who had to undergo surgery after he lost vision in both eyes and received damage to his left cornea.

"The photos look pretty frightening because there was blood everywhere," Fordham said.

"So any theories, why would it be that magpies swoop just about everywhere in Australia, apart from Tasmania?"

James Glindemann was attacked by a magpie in Sale last week.
James Glindemann was attacked by a magpie in Sale last week.

The national Magpie Alert website only has one attack listed on October 6 where a man was swooped while cycling in Hobart.

"Cheeky bugger swooped twice as I was riding ... Didn't make contact but clicked beak loudly a few times," the man reported.

The website reports there has been 4242 attacks so far this year, resulting in 538 injuries.

Last year the ABC looked into why magpies don't swoop in Tassie and it seems no one really has an answer.

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

Magpie attacks by state. Picture: Magpie Alert
Magpie attacks by state. Picture: Magpie Alert


"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.

"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 the Tasmanian magpies were really no different so it was unclear why they didn't swoop as much.

"We've known for many, many years that our birds aren't aggressive like the mainland ones," he said.

"We just know there is a difference, and we're thankful in Tasmania that we don't have aggressive magpies."



Originally published as Aussie state where magpies don't swoop