Canberra postman's secret to stop magpies from swooping

Australia Post postman John Kanard has found the best defence to swooping magpies is a muesli bar. He feeds the mag[pies along the route and doesn't get swooped any more.  Photo by Karleen Minney.
Australia Post postman John Kanard has found the best defence to swooping magpies is a muesli bar. He feeds the mag[pies along the route and doesn't get swooped any more. Photo by Karleen Minney.
Australia Post postman John Kanard has found the best defence to swooping magpies is a muesli bar. He feeds the mag[pies along the route and doesn't get swooped any more.  Photo by Karleen Minney.

Australia Post postman John Kanard has found the best defence to swooping magpies is a muesli bar. He feeds the mag[pies along the route and doesn't get swooped any more. Photo by Karleen Minney.

Australia Post postman John Kanard has found the best defence to swooping magpies is a muesli bar. He feeds the mag[pies along the route and doesn't get swooped any more.  Photo by Karleen Minney.

Australia Post postman John Kanard has found the best defence to swooping magpies is a muesli bar. He feeds the mag[pies along the route and doesn't get swooped any more. Photo by Karleen Minney.

We all heard the warning: Spring time means magpie swooping season.

While most of us try and avoid any interaction with a magpie or experiment with different methods to deter the birds, this postman has become friends with them.

John Kanard has been delivering mail in Canberra for the past two years and has never been swooped.

Mr Kanard, who grew up in Canberra, was made redundant from his previous job nearly three years ago. He applied for a position with Australia Post not thinking much of it.

"The job was offered and I thought, well it's better than nothing... from my point of view I've got a great job, even on a rainy day," Mr Kanard said.

"As soon as I started, I thought, there are magpies everywhere in Reid and Campbell, the best thing I can do is educate them about who I am, which is basically what I do."

As a young boy Mr Kanard joined the Royal Canberra Golf Club where the captain of the junior team was an ornithologist who schooled him in the art of magpie whispering.

"Really, it's as simple as gaining the animal's trust when it's not spring time and you feed them," he said.

"When spring time comes along and the magpies know who you are they just come and say hello and expect to be fed."

His secret? Muesli bars.

"I get some pretty good quality muesli bars...I don't eat them myself, I buy them specially to feed the birds."

Mr Kanard said people stop and take photos of him feeding the magpies.

"There's a little section in Campbell where I can without exaggeration be surrounded by 30 birds," he said.

"One bird in particular in Reid, it can talk, it can imitate a cockatoo."

His advice to people scared of the swooping season?

"I'd just say to my colleagues at work 'don't be scared, feed them'," he said.

"You have to develop a relationship with the birds, that's the way to do it. If you get to know them, they get to know you and life's pretty good."

This story Canberra postman's secret to stop magpies from swooping first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.