We all knew it, but now it’s been confirmed – magpies really are bullies!

We don’t want to alarm you, but according to a new study by Griffith University magpies actually do pick on people.

The discovery was made during a study in which a group of students wore masks near nesting areas, and swapped them day to day. It found that the attacking magpies continued to fixate on particular masks, regardless of who was underneath them.

Behavioural Ecologist Associate Professor, Darryl Jones who conducted the study told The Sydney Morning Herald that magpies can tell people apart and distinguish facial features.

“It’s absolutely clear, magpies really do distinguish between people and they know individuals,” he said.

“They can recognise people and only those people are getting attacked.”

During the study the research team even tried to outsmart the magpies with disguises, but the bird’s knew what was going on. They knew!

“We got (study participants) to dress in completely different ways – they still recognised the individual,” Associate Professor Jones said.

“They’re really smart.”

And, don’t try and run from them if you are getting attacked.

“When we flee from the area, their aggressive behaviour is rewarded by the fact that we’ve moved away, which in return encourages them,” Associate Professor Jones told news.com.au

There is no clear explanation why they only perceive certain people as threats, but the attacks only occur during breeding season as the birds try to protect their young.

Don’t worry, we’re all scared!

Here are a few tips to avoid getting attacked this magpie season:

  • Take an alternative route.
  • Get to know the magpies in your area and bribe them with treats. It sounds stupid, but if they in fact do recognise faces they will remember yours as a nice one who provides them with yummy goodies.
  • Take shelter under an umbrella or carry a large stick, magpies will only attack the highest point.
  • Wear a broad rimmed hat and sunglasses to deter them.
  • Keep a close eye on the birds, as they don’t like being watched and are less likely to attack.
  • If you’re on a bike, attach a pole with a brightly coloured flag. It will hopefully scare the bird away.