19 April 2016

Magpie swooping season, here we go

| Alexandra Craig
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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?

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joingler said :

It’s not just magpies. I got swooped by a light brown bird whilst cycling down Maribyrnong Avenue after shopping at Kaleen Village the other day. It was possibly a butcher bird but not entirely sure

Over the years, I have been dived by plovers, pee wees and willy wag tails; the last one hit me. I have also seen wattle birds diving.

It’s not just magpies. I got swooped by a light brown bird whilst cycling down Maribyrnong Avenue after shopping at Kaleen Village the other day. It was possibly a butcher bird but not entirely sure

No_Nose said :

Maya123 said :

. If the ears stick out they need protection too, not only from magpie attacks, but the sun too, so some sort of covering for ears is needed for those who have short hair.

I have something that protects my ears and head from magpies when I go down the street.

It’s called a car.

(It provides pretty effective protection from cyclists too)

“(It provides pretty effective protection from cyclists too)”

Sounds like it’s the people on bikes who might need some protection when you are around!

Maya123 said :

. If the ears stick out they need protection too, not only from magpie attacks, but the sun too, so some sort of covering for ears is needed for those who have short hair.

I have something that protects my ears and head from magpies when I go down the street.

It’s called a car.

(It provides pretty effective protection from cyclists too)

Holden Caulfield wrote, “Because most helmets don’t protect your neck and it bloody hurts when you get a peck to the neck.”

A friend with short hair used to wear a cloth neck protector off the end of his bicycle helmet. This was to stop his neck getting sunburnt, but something similar might make it harder for magpies. If the ears stick out they need protection too, not only from magpie attacks, but the sun too, so some sort of covering for ears is needed for those who have short hair.

Holden Caulfield said :

Maya123 said :

If you are wearing a helmet, as you should be, and also glasses are sensible too, why do you need to wave you hand about?

Because most helmets don’t protect your neck and it bloody hurts when you get a peck to the neck. I’d hate to think what a magpie could do to an ear. Ouch!

I’m yet to wave my hand about, but I do let a few expletives out if I’m getting swooped!

Fortunately my hair covers my neck and ears.

Holden Caulfield12:39 pm 02 Oct 15

Maya123 said :

If you are wearing a helmet, as you should be, and also glasses are sensible too, why do you need to wave you hand about?

Because most helmets don’t protect your neck and it bloody hurts when you get a peck to the neck. I’d hate to think what a magpie could do to an ear. Ouch!

I’m yet to wave my hand about, but I do let a few expletives out if I’m getting swooped!

carnardly said :

Maya123 said :

[
If you are wearing a helmet, as you should be, and also glasses are sensible too, why do you need to wave you hand about? Let the magpie attack. I was attacked riding home today three separate times. Good grief, there was no need to wave around hands, get scared, because it wasn’t scary at all. Why is it scary? I ignored the magpies and rode on as if they weren’t there. Yawn!! Waving hands about and the like is way over the top.
By the way, it is not always easy or safe to take one hand off the handlebars. Going downhill is an example, when both hands are needed to break. Not everyone, for various reasons, not always because they are inexperienced I add, has the balance either to take one hand off and wave it about safely.

I CHOOSE to wave my hand above my head and can keep my bike in a straight line. Why do you think i’m scared?

pfft. It’s got nothing to do with being scared. Nor do I do it all the time. But there are a couple of fiesty ones in my area who have drawn blood on more than one occasion. Waving my hand doesn’t stop them swooping, but it does stop them making contact. That is enough for me.

Not sure why you think my choices are over the top.

I don’t need to ‘break’ my hands when i’m going downhill. I may use my brakes though when i need to. Another trick is to just turn my head to the shadow side so i can see if its coming after me.

Okay, maybe you weren’t scared. But I have heard of other people reacting to magpie attacks, by waving about hands and the like, and then having a bike accident, likely because they panicked and allowed themselves to be distracted as they attempted to shoo the magpie.

Maya123 said :

[
If you are wearing a helmet, as you should be, and also glasses are sensible too, why do you need to wave you hand about? Let the magpie attack. I was attacked riding home today three separate times. Good grief, there was no need to wave around hands, get scared, because it wasn’t scary at all. Why is it scary? I ignored the magpies and rode on as if they weren’t there. Yawn!! Waving hands about and the like is way over the top.
By the way, it is not always easy or safe to take one hand off the handlebars. Going downhill is an example, when both hands are needed to break. Not everyone, for various reasons, not always because they are inexperienced I add, has the balance either to take one hand off and wave it about safely.

I CHOOSE to wave my hand above my head and can keep my bike in a straight line. Why do you think i’m scared? pfft. It’s got nothing to do with being scared. Nor do I do it all the time. But there are a couple of fiesty ones in my area who have drawn blood on more than one occasion. Waving my hand doesn’t stop them swooping, but it does stop them making contact. That is enough for me. Not sure why you think my choices are over the top.

I don’t need to ‘break’ my hands when i’m going downhill. I may use my brakes though when i need to. Another trick is to just turn my head to the shadow side so i can see if its coming after me.

While I was doing some early morning swatting for an exam in Goulburn,’56,I was targeted by three magpies from three different directions and what made it amazing was they all arrived together.My books came in handy.

carnardly said :

Any cyclist should be able to take one hand off the handlebars and wave it in the air. That’s just a basic bike handling skill that you learn. If you can’t put your hand up you can’t also put it out to indicate changing lanes etc.

Ride with one hand waving above your head through the swooping areas isn’t hard to do. It doesn’t cause accidents and protects myself. If you can’t do it you should brush up on your bike handling skills and balance.

If you are wearing a helmet, as you should be, and also glasses are sensible too, why do you need to wave you hand about? Let the magpie attack. I was attacked riding home today three separate times. Good grief, there was no need to wave around hands, get scared, because it wasn’t scary at all. Why is it scary? I ignored the magpies and rode on as if they weren’t there. Yawn!! Waving hands about and the like is way over the top.
By the way, it is not always easy or safe to take one hand off the handlebars. Going downhill is an example, when both hands are needed to break. Not everyone, for various reasons, not always because they are inexperienced I add, has the balance either to take one hand off and wave it about safely.

It would of course be totally unthinkable to get rid of the freeways and cars so there won’t be the massive amount of roadkill to sustain the magpies and crows.

We just need to restore the natural balance.

Just as a few white pointers in LBG would fix the carp, and the National Zoo’s lions, tigers and cheetahs could be put to work on the ACT’s kangaroo population, a few strategically released wedge tailed eagles will make short work of the maggies.

Alexandra Craig1:50 pm 01 Oct 15

carnardly said :

Any cyclist should be able to take one hand off the handlebars and wave it in the air. That’s just a basic bike handling skill that you learn. If you can’t put your hand up you can’t also put it out to indicate changing lanes etc.

Ride with one hand waving above your head through the swooping areas isn’t hard to do. It doesn’t cause accidents and protects myself. If you can’t do it you should brush up on your bike handling skills and balance.

I suppose it’s probably the panic that gets people and then they have an accident.

Any cyclist should be able to take one hand off the handlebars and wave it in the air. That’s just a basic bike handling skill that you learn. If you can’t put your hand up you can’t also put it out to indicate changing lanes etc.

Ride with one hand waving above your head through the swooping areas isn’t hard to do. It doesn’t cause accidents and protects myself. If you can’t do it you should brush up on your bike handling skills and balance.

Alexandra Craig9:30 am 01 Oct 15

Alexandra Craig said :

Mysteryman said :

Holden Caulfield said :

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.

It’s not more stupid than “the birds were here first you’re an invader”.

I suppose you’re against the shark cull then too?

Whoops – I meant to say ‘I suppose you’re pro the shark cull then too?’

Alexandra Craig9:29 am 01 Oct 15

Mysteryman said :

Holden Caulfield said :

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.

It’s not more stupid than “the birds were here first you’re an invader”.

I suppose you’re against the shark cull then too?

Mysteryman said :

Holden Caulfield said :

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.

It’s not more stupid than “the birds were here first you’re an invader”.

Yes, it is more stupid.

What I don’t understand is why adults see the need to wear the porcupine helmet when riding a bike and those who call for a cull of magpies because they’re scared. It’s laughable.

There are some rare cases of extreme aggression which are dealt with appropriately, but the average magpie is pretty harmless. Some people need to grow up. If a stranger turned up in your backyard and in your mind he meant to harm your children, how would you react, I wonder?

Holden Caulfield said :

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.

It’s not more stupid than “the birds were here first you’re an invader”.

Holden Caulfield7:19 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.

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.

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.

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 Tempest12:09 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.

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 Craig11:01 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.

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!

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 Caulfield8:11 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! 😛

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.

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

They’re only removed in extreme cases.

Alexandra Craig1:54 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.

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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