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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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Magpie swooping season, here we go
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Maya123 10:33 am 06 Oct 15

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.

joingler 11:13 pm 05 Oct 15

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

Maya123 10:04 pm 03 Oct 15

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!

No_Nose 4:53 pm 03 Oct 15

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)

Maya123 1:04 pm 02 Oct 15

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.

Maya123 12:56 pm 02 Oct 15

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 Caulfield 12:39 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!

Maya123 11:02 am 02 Oct 15

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.

carnardly 10:21 pm 01 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? 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.

wottaway 5:30 pm 01 Oct 15

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.

Maya123 4:19 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.

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.

rubaiyat 2:56 pm 01 Oct 15

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 Craig 1:50 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.

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