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Magpie swooping season, here we go

By Alexandra Craig - 29 September 2015 33

stock-magpie

It’s magpie season again. It’s that time of year when cyclists ride around with cable ties sticking out of their helmets like echidnas, and pedestrians wear sunglasses on the back of their heads, ducking nervously as they walk beneath a tree.

Magpies swoop as a means of protecting their eggs or newly hatched babies. Some magpies are quite demure in their swoop, while others can get quite violent.

Just this this month several magpies in Canberra’s north were culled after a string of attacks. Magpies had attempted to get food from people – in one instance landing on a child’s head and leaning down to take food from the child’s mouth.

This sort of behaviour from magpies is no doubt fuelled by people feeding the birds to the point where they become reliant on people and can’t find their own food. I don’t like culls of any kind, so I think with this issue people need to be educated before we keep culling the birds. The problem will just continue otherwise.

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Magpies swooping in order to protect their young is a bit of an issue in Canberra, and there’s even a dedicated dob-in-a-magpie website where people can ping the location of where they’ve been swooped. This is what it looked like when I checked it out. By looking at this map you would think that living in Canberra is like living in the film The Birds.

I’ve not been swooped by a magpie for some time. Probably over 10 years and it wasn’t in Canberra. I have no idea what my secret is, I guess I’m just lucky. I know some people do take quite drastic measures though, like gluing eyes onto the back of their bike helmet or wearing an ice-cream container on their head.

I’d be keen to know just how far people go, and if there’s a solution that doesn’t involve making yourself look like a bit of a goose.

According to the Magpie Alert website, 10.8 per cent of all magpie swoopings in Australia occur in the ACT. 32.1 per cent happen in Queensland. Some suburbs in Canberra have lots and lots of magpie attacks, while others have none.

When was the last time you got swooped by a magpie and is there a local ‘hot spot’ to avoid?

What’s Your opinion?


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33 Responses to
Magpie swooping season, here we go
Holden Caulfield 7:19 pm 30 Sep 15

Mysteryman said :

Alexandra Craig said :

Arthur said :

Why not culll them? They are a dangerous hazard to us yet they don’t really put back to the natural circle of life in their own regard, plenty of other birds would cover for them.

Because they were here first, we’re invading their natural habitat.

The lifespan of magpie is 25 years. I’ve been here longer than that. They are in MY natural habit.

Yeah, that logic works well.

Maya123 6:39 pm 30 Sep 15

Riding my bike this evening I was dived by a magpie. I ignored it and kept riding. The car load of low IQs a few minutes earlier, shouting something unintelligible was a lot more worrying than a mere magpie attack.

Mysteryman 1:02 pm 30 Sep 15

Alexandra Craig said :

Arthur said :

Why not culll them? They are a dangerous hazard to us yet they don’t really put back to the natural circle of life in their own regard, plenty of other birds would cover for them.

Because they were here first, we’re invading their natural habitat.

The lifespan of magpie is 25 years. I’ve been here longer than that. They are in MY natural habit.

Maya123 12:34 pm 30 Sep 15

Ezy said :

Holden Caulfield said :

This just proves that everyone hates cyclists! 😛

Spot on!

I get swooped a lot. A few weeks ago I received the most vicious attack which drew blood on my neck. I had a hoodie on at the time and felt something pulling on it… I thought it was a mate being cheeky. But then I felt the warmth of something on my back briefly, kind of like a warmth you would get if a cat was sitting on a lap. Yep, the little bugger pretty much landed on my back and went for my neck.

I know the spots and feel like it is my lucky day if I don’t get picked up by the local magpie. I don’t feel like the should be culled, it’s just what they have always done and will continue to do – people need to just deal with it.

My biggest advice to the not so confident cyclists out there, just keep riding – don’t panic – just keep looking forward and relax as much as you can. The magpies usually give up after 2-3 swoops. Injury usually results from people falling off their bikes after looking around, flailing arms and losing control of their bike.

“My biggest advice to the not so confident cyclists out there, just keep riding – don’t panic – just keep looking forward and relax as much as you can. The magpies usually give up after 2-3 swoops. Injury usually results from people falling off their bikes after looking around, flailing arms and losing control of their bike.

Exactly. Even when one extremely vicious magpie kept diving me, maybe a dozen times; even close past my face, I keep cycling and looking ahead. I didn’t look back or flail my arms, because that is what causes accidents. Once you get used to behaving that way, magpie attacks should lose their scariness and just get boring.
I once had a magpie dive my car. After hearing a loud bump on the car roof I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a concussed magpie staggering down the road behind me.

Raging Tempest 12:09 pm 30 Sep 15

I walk Woden to Mawson most days and pass five or six pairs of maggies on the way. I’ve only seen one swoop and it only went for lycra clad cyclists in red and black. Other colours and people in civies were left alone. They don’t even look up at walkers. I’m with Holden Caulfield, throw them some food – worms, cat biscuits, whatever, and they’ll leave you be.
My backyard pair always give us a fly by at the beginning of the season and sit nearby when we garden waiting for grubs to be exposed.

Ezy 11:27 am 30 Sep 15

Holden Caulfield said :

This just proves that everyone hates cyclists! 😛

Spot on!

I get swooped a lot. A few weeks ago I received the most vicious attack which drew blood on my neck. I had a hoodie on at the time and felt something pulling on it… I thought it was a mate being cheeky. But then I felt the warmth of something on my back briefly, kind of like a warmth you would get if a cat was sitting on a lap. Yep, the little bugger pretty much landed on my back and went for my neck.

I know the spots and feel like it is my lucky day if I don’t get picked up by the local magpie. I don’t feel like the should be culled, it’s just what they have always done and will continue to do – people need to just deal with it.

My biggest advice to the not so confident cyclists out there, just keep riding – don’t panic – just keep looking forward and relax as much as you can. The magpies usually give up after 2-3 swoops. Injury usually results from people falling off their bikes after looking around, flailing arms and losing control of their bike.

Alexandra Craig 11:01 am 30 Sep 15

Bennop said :

Alexandra Craig said :

Arthur said :

Why not culll them? They are a dangerous hazard to us yet they don’t really put back to the natural circle of life in their own regard, plenty of other birds would cover for them.

Because they were here first, we’re invading their natural habitat.

Do you have the same views about the Cats you so support?

No, I don’t because studies show it actually makes the problem worse. Culling cats is nothing but a quick and temporary fix. If it worked (and was done quickly and humanely – as far as I’m aware it is) I wouldn’t have a problem with it at all. But as I said, studies show it doesn’t work so I think other solutions need to be looked at.

nsee 8:52 pm 29 Sep 15

Arthur said :

Why not culll them? They are a dangerous hazard to us yet they don’t really put back to the natural circle of life in their own regard, plenty of other birds would cover for them.

Classic Australian ingenuity! If you don’t like it or annoys you, cull it!

Bennop 8:49 pm 29 Sep 15

Alexandra Craig said :

Arthur said :

Why not culll them? They are a dangerous hazard to us yet they don’t really put back to the natural circle of life in their own regard, plenty of other birds would cover for them.

Because they were here first, we’re invading their natural habitat.

Do you have the same views about the Cats you so support?

Holden Caulfield 8:11 pm 29 Sep 15

I really like magpies and at my previous house used to feed them a few times a year. They’re generally pretty placid out of mating season.

I’ve never been swooped on foot, only on a bike.

I got swooped while riding on the cycle path next to Majura Road yesterday afternoon. I was riding uphill, into a reasonably strong headwind, it was hard work and then I got swooped! The closest tree was at least 50m away. I was not happy Jan!

A couple of weeks ago I got swooped on the cycle path alongside the old Dairy Flat Road.

Last year there was a pretty viscous magpie at the end of Alinga Street in the city, near the EY building. He got me on the back of my neck and left a minor scar.

A number of years ago, well before I’d returned to cycling, I was sitting out near the Canberra Times fountain enjoying an ice cream. While people watching there was a magpie that swooped every single cyclist that road past and left every person on foot alone.

This just proves that everyone hates cyclists! 😛

Maya123 7:53 pm 29 Sep 15

Wear a hat and sunglasses and ignore the magpies. Don’t make a fuss. If they hit you, let them, because if you are wearing a hat they are more likely to be hurt than you. If fact, if you are cycling and start waving your hand around at the attacking magpie, that’s when you are likely to have an accident. Better to ride on, don’t look around but continue to look ahead and concentrate on the road. Let the magpie dive you, even hit you, as you are wearing a helmet (I do this), because soon you will leave the magpie’s territory and this boring behaviour will end. Unnecessary panic causes accidents.

Zan 4:30 pm 29 Sep 15

Stop and feed them, they will remember you then and will not attack. So carry a pack of meal worms.

Rollersk8r 1:58 pm 29 Sep 15

They’re only removed in extreme cases.

Alexandra Craig 1:54 pm 29 Sep 15

Arthur said :

Why not culll them? They are a dangerous hazard to us yet they don’t really put back to the natural circle of life in their own regard, plenty of other birds would cover for them.

Because they were here first, we’re invading their natural habitat.

Arthur 7:57 am 29 Sep 15

Why not culll them? They are a dangerous hazard to us yet they don’t really put back to the natural circle of life in their own regard, plenty of other birds would cover for them.

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