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

David Murtagh 12 October 2020 147
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”.

So, you’d think, looking at a calendar, we’re almost through this hell.

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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147 Responses to Magpies are evil, rotten, malevolent, dead-eyed bastards. Fact check: true
Margaret Ryan Margaret Ryan 10:46 pm 08 Oct 20

We were the proud owners of Maggie for many years and still have the licence to prove it.Featherless first and we taught it how to be a proper magpie.

Graham Cooke Graham Cooke 5:07 pm 08 Oct 20

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

Jody Trewheela Jody Trewheela 6:36 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.

Peter Major Peter Major 11:31 pm 06 Oct 20

I have a dozen magpies coming in for the odd snack and have never been swooped

Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 10:54 pm 06 Oct 20

The local magpies that visit us every afternoon are awesome, we feed them biscuits and what not. Never been swooped.. even had them swoop other birds for us..

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:31 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…….

Joe Humphries Joe Humphries 5:55 pm 06 Oct 20

They are a part of Aussie life. Either you love them or you hate them. Ranting about them doesn't help. Get over it.

Rodney Weber Rodney Weber 3:42 pm 06 Oct 20

Joanne Chapman :-) Don't show this to Tash :-)

Eoin Wotkinz Eoin Wotkinz 1:24 pm 06 Oct 20

Boomers mistaking the Betoota would love this

Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:18 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.

ssek ssek 12:31 pm 06 Oct 20

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.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:36 am 06 Oct 20

I was cycling the other day and was dived about a dozen times. But it wasn't a problem as I had a helmet and wrap around glasses on. It was no cause for a rant. I let the magpie do its thing, ignored it and kept cycling. I didn't react, panic, get frightened or want a rant. My helmet protected my head and ears and the glasses my eyes. After about a dozen swoops the magpie gave up. If walking I wear a wide brimmed sun hat...or try to remember to. If I forget a sun hat, I get more annoyed at myself for forgetting, than the magpie. (albert30, Magpies are usually only a problem if you let them be. Wear a suitable hat and wrap around sunglasses, and ignore them. Then, no need to be scared of them. I used to be scared of them, until I thought about the situation. I cycle and ignore them. Very unlikely to be hurt with a suitable helmet and glasses, and you don't panic.)

    Shirley Sloan Shirley Sloan 1:14 pm 06 Oct 20

    I have been attacked so badly the magpie was attacking my neck below my helmet

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 1:25 pm 06 Oct 20

    Shirley Sloan Fortunately in over forty years of cycling that has never happened to me, but my hair usually covers my neck. I have been hit several times on the helmet and on the back. The magpie hitting my helmet was likely hurt far more than me. I only got a fright. Now, I keep riding, don't turn, don't look at the magpie, as that only encourages it from my experience. "Oh you've noticed me. I'll attack you again then." I also had a magpie dive-bomb my car once, which also gave me a fright with the bang on the roof. I looked back to see a magpie staggering down the road, concussed.

Karen Feng Karen Feng 8:50 am 06 Oct 20

They are thieves. They stole my maccas hash brown. Both time happen in the same area. first time the magpie didnt like my hash brown.

2nd time i was mugged by a group of magpies. This was last year

albert30 albert30 12:20 am 06 Oct 20

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 🙂

Carly Maree Carly Maree 12:03 am 06 Oct 20

MAGPIE IS FRIEND! How very dare you.

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 11:39 pm 05 Oct 20

I love magpies. Stop being pathetic and embrace the chaos. I bet you would swoop if you could just to protect your children

Jade Miller Jade Miller 8:56 pm 05 Oct 20

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

Gillian Nolen Gillian Nolen 8:11 pm 05 Oct 20

The Magpies at my place eat out of our hands, no-one in our street gets attacked by them. And when the young are big enough they bring them too.

    Bill Hatossy Bill Hatossy 10:15 am 06 Oct 20

    Gillian Nolen same here. I have a pair, Mr and Mrs flappy wings who have been feeding from my hands for years. Every year they bring their fledgling to the verandah and show them the restaurant. The fledglings gear smaller cuts of meat so they can swallow and as the months go on they get bigger so they learn to clutch in the foot to rip portions. Meanwhile mum and dad watch and get their share. Similarly with the kookaburras I have three regulars.

    Gillian Nolen Gillian Nolen 10:18 am 06 Oct 20

    Bill Hatossy I also put out a coconut fibre pot liner in a free for nesting material.

Roslyn Mandelberg Roslyn Mandelberg 7:54 pm 05 Oct 20

I love magpies. Their song is beautiful and a unique Australian melody

Lynda-Maree Morgan Lynda-Maree Morgan 7:27 pm 05 Oct 20

I'm not even going to read this article, the headline is enough to make me not want to. I have never been swooped. I talk to them all that I see and look them in the eye, they love a chatter

    John Coleman John Coleman 8:41 pm 05 Oct 20

    Lynda-Maree Morgan if you look a magpie in the eye while you're riding a bike, you come off.

    Lynda-Maree Morgan Lynda-Maree Morgan 8:48 pm 05 Oct 20

    John hadn't thought of that, I don't ride a bike, so it's when I'm walking by

    John Coleman John Coleman 8:49 pm 05 Oct 20

    Lynda-Maree Morgan have to say, I've only been swooped once when walking. They hate cyclists though.

    Deirdre Chaturvedi Deirdre Chaturvedi 10:05 pm 05 Oct 20

    John Coleman paint eyes on your helmet 😉

    Shirley Sloan Shirley Sloan 1:12 pm 06 Oct 20

    Well you are very luck as I've been swooped many times and quote viciously. There are many trouble spots I now avoid, but they like to spread their wings and territory

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