28 August 2023

Magpies are evil, rotten, malevolent, dead-eyed bastards. Fact check: true

| David Murtagh
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Swooping magpie in suburban street.

“So you’re minding your own business, far away from my nest? Not on my watch, buddy!” Photo: File.

Nature is wonderful. The scent of flowers, whales breaching in crystal clear waters, rolling hills, fields of canola and a sunrise or sunset can all lift the soul. They are glorious. These moments make life worth living.

But magpies are bastards.

Magpies are proof of a vengeful God. Like wasps. And vegan bacon. There’s no reason for their being.

And before you ask, yes, this rant is the result of swooping. An incessant, good-for-nothing swooping. Magpies swoop and peck and harass and pester not because they need to, but because they can. Like a school bully. They also can’t be reasoned with.

And don’t dare try to come to the defence of these malevolent disease bags. Which some people try to do. Madness.

“Awwww, but they have such pretty songs.” If their songs were so pretty they’d have a Spotify playlist. And for the record, there are plenty of birds with sweet tunes that don’t try to kill you.

And don’t dare start with the “magpies are just protecting their nest” trope. That’s fake news.

Protecting their nest? When was the last time you saw a cyclist 20 feet up a tree? Especially one on the wrong side of 100kg. Maybe 110kg. It doesn’t matter – that’s not important right now.

Put it this way, unless there’s a buffet in that nest, their nursery is safe.

Magpie swooping map of Canberra.

Magpie swooping map 2020. Image: Magpie Alert.

The truth is, they’re not protecting their nest. At all. They’re just being bastards.

And here’s the kicker. Humans, who have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air (ha!), and over all the wild animals of the earth are powerless against magpies. Partly this is because of the Nature Conservation Act 2014 and the Animal Welfare Act 1992 which mean they’re a protected species. So be warned: they got to our parliamentarians.

Paranoid? Maybe. But they’re sneaky buggers. Put nothing past them.

Their attacks show their true evil. Like the terrorists they are, they attack when you least expect it, often from behind and often without provocation, and then soar off again looking for more victims. They attack not for food, of course, but for sport. They’re dentists to our Cecil the Lion.

Do you think a dozen zip ties in your helmet like a Lycra Robert Smith is the cure? Fuggedaboutit.

Zip ties are useless, except to tell the world that you’ve been a victim, you’re scared and are prepared to sacrifice dignity for security. That’s a fool’s trade. If you’re going to be beaten, retain some pride. Better to be pecked on your feet than live on your knees. Under an umbrella. With eyes painted on it.

As for all those cyclists waving sticks above their head? Ha! You’re not safe. Not for a second. For a start, if you hit the blighters you could be fined. Magpies would love that. In fact, they’d like nothing more.

But when you’re waving a stick, they know they’ve got you on the run (so to speak). Your judgement is foggy, reflexes divided and you have less balance. You’re easier to dismount. The stick isn’t protection, it’s a target. Game on, they say. Because. They’re. Bastards.

Another excuse you’ll hear is: “Maybe they’ve had bad experiences with humans … you know, they’re really smart, they can remember faces. It’s probably our fault.”

These turncoats can’t be trusted. No matter the route, they’ll peck you out. Until this week, this human hadn’t been cycling through Phillip. This human has done nothing against them. That didn’t stop them. The problem isn’t us, it’s them.

The theory, according to the ACT Government is that “most magpie swooping occurs between August and October”.

Not so fast. It goes on: “Some magpies have been known to swoop as early as July and as late as December”.

In other words, there are no rules.

The advice continues: “Each individual magpie will only swoop for a period of six to eight weeks, if at all.”

That’s great news, but false hope. There’s not one magpie. There are many, many. Way too many.

At this point, you might expect a solution. A call to arms. But no. We are powerless. We are beaten.

The irony, of course, is that the people most likely to be swooped are walkers and cyclists. People doing the right thing for the planet by not driving. Magpies, on the other hand, are highly susceptible to climate change. Good.

So as you’re being swooped for the hundredth time, perhaps riding or running though Phillip, or around the car yards of Belconnen, take a detour. Look at the cars. Especially those cracking gas-guzzling carbon-belching V8s, SUVs and cranky diesels. They don’t get swooped. Sure the planet may shed a tear, but it’s your best defence against magpies.

And. They’re. Bastards.

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Graham Cooke5:07 pm 08 Oct 20

I feed our local magpies every day with the cat’s leftovers, and have never been swooped.

Jody Trewheela6:36 am 07 Oct 20

There Is certain ways to avoid the swooping by magpies but at least in Australia magpies are protected unlike Here in New Zealand where our government encourages trapping ,shooting, poisoning&drowning even though magpies have found to be a native New Zealand bird from the Miocene period.

HiddenDragon6:31 pm 06 Oct 20

This is quite mild compared to a piece the CT once ran about magpies which mysteriously exploded on a suburban backyard fence…….

Capital Retro1:18 pm 06 Oct 20

Karen Feng, I would think that allowing magpies to eat your Macca’s hash brown would be tantamount to animal cruelty.

While I was aware most of the people who post here are whiny fun police, this comments section was a real eye opener. Jesus you people have no sense of humour.

Well done David, finally someone has called it the way it is. I can imagine the conga line of sedentary, diesel driving, nature channel experts that will decry your article. A question for anyone taking you to task: When did you last get outside, do some serious exercise and gracefully accept multiple magpie attacks as your own fault for daring to enjoy the great outdoors?. I cannot think of any animal every spring that inspires the same list of placatory and mind numbingly impractical safety and avoidance tips! Lets not start on those useless government issued warning signs! Magpies for at least 3 months are a public menace, regardless of the increased attacks each year or injury caused the A.C.T government does nothing. Spring should motivate everyone to get outside and establish healthy habits that last all year. To your point, Magpies discourage people getting out of cars and onto bikes or into a pair of running shoes. Government spends money on new bike paths, yet will not protect the users of these paths from magpie attacks! Every year the same research tells us only a very small percentage of magpies swoop. Lets pretend Magpie Alert is fake news and some great mind or institution actually has the data to back up the research. I wonder if these great minds or institutions can help find a way to deal with the minority of recalcitrant black and white attackers?. We could all than live in harmony with the large percentages of magpies that just want to sing happily in our neighborhoods. With no one prepared to quantify or address the problem, in the interests of the environment I will be forced to resort to the car equivalent of a dozen zip ties on a cycle helmet….driving a Prius 🙂

This is one of the funniest and truest articles I’ve read about Magpies. I’m still laughing!

George Watling4:08 pm 05 Oct 20

This is a childish and reckless article full of fake news and miss reporting. What David Murtagh is doing here is inciting violent against a protected native animal that IS only try to protect its young. There are quite a few angry and cruel reprobates out there who will read this and feel justified attacking these little Aussie Icons with stick, stones, and worse. I have had to step into stop an attack on a magpies by a teenage boy myself and there have been reports of incidents where some unspeakable individuals in our community have used slingshots to attack them. I am surprised the RiotACT would publish this rubbish. I though the RiotACT had higher standards. https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/how-survive-magpie-swooping-season

Yes, good on you George! The RiotACT needs more contributors with high standards like you! These people with a sense of humour should head off to News Corp!

The typical advice from people who obviously don’t go outside much, or if they do, they’ve got all day to look the magpie in the eye while backing away, instead of having to get to work on time like some of us.

a lot is two words11:46 am 05 Oct 20

Hahaha I love this and it’s all true! What a great read 🙂

Magpies have a hatred of Lycra clad road hogs who think they own the road and deliberately slow down traffic by riding abreast. That makes magpies and drivers natural allies. Can magpies be trained by putting bird seed on bicycle helmets?

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