Man vs magpie at Murrumbateman, where it’s war in the vineyard

Genevieve Jacobs 28 September 2021 38
A magpie inflight

A magpie in full flight can strike fear into the hearts of many. Photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos.

It’s man vs bird. And while a shaky truce is holding (just) at Murrumbateman, Ravensworth winemaker Bryan Martin has more on his mind that just the grapes when he steps outside his door these days.

Plenty of people are swooped by anonymous magpie warriors across the city, but it’s rarer to have a personal relationship with a bird who is determined to obliterate you from your own front yard. And only you.

Bryan has captured his personal nemesis in full, fearsome, flight as he wheels, turns and dives at supersonic speeds (the magpie, not Bryan). And it’s not as if there’s history here – Martin says the magpie is a youthful newcomer, recently paired up and presumably doing his best to convince Mrs Magpie that he’s a proper bloke who will do the right thing by her and the kids.

“I see him sitting on a branch sharpening his beak and waiting for me,” Bryan tells Region Media. “I’m in and out of the house and down to the sheds half a dozen times each day but he never goes for anyone else except me.

“My son can be in the garden for hours – he’s a big bloke but the magpie never bothers him.

“But I go outside without my hat and there’ll be a huge whoosh and snap next to my ear. Or with my hat on, same thing, he doesn’t seem to care particularly.”

You can see exactly what that feels like in Bryan’s slow motion videos (and admire the steadiness of his hand while under assault by the avian equivalent of a MiG jet).

The odd thing is that Bryan and his family are positively fond of magpies. He’s insistent that nobody has ever hurt or harmed the bird in any way.


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


Bryan’s wife Jocelyn has been researching magpie behaviour and thinks they don’t actually intend to hit anyone, just to put the frighteners on them. She reckons if they hit you, it’s a mistake.

Whatever the bird’s actual intentions, so far, so good.

“We have a truce, he holds back on actually hitting me and I’ll leave the shotgun in the house.”

Have you been part of an epic magpie stand-off?


What's Your Opinion?


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38 Responses to Man vs magpie at Murrumbateman, where it’s war in the vineyard
Karolyn Bush Karolyn Bush 1:19 pm 05 Oct 21

I love the truce, lol. “Don’t actually hit me and I’ll leave the shotgun in the house…”

I’m glad they are compromising lol

Jessica Thatcher Jessica Thatcher 10:05 pm 01 Oct 21

We feed ours that are around our house and we have no problems. They even tap on the door some mornings. 😊

TimboinOz TimboinOz 10:47 pm 30 Sep 21

I used to cycle to work from the top of Kambah to Barton via the ‘shared pathways’ routes. For one Spring season a particular magpie (or family) nesting in Sth WestWeston Creek would dive bomb me on the morning journey. Down in lower gear and up off the seat.

They were nowhere near as rigorous and determined on the return journey.

And the next year it all stopped!

Maybe I was going so fast on that long downhill run to the Sulwood-Drive and Parkway crossroads that they didn’t bother. A fast-moving

Helen Maree Helen Maree 3:49 pm 30 Sep 21

Take out some nice rusty cubed up steak for him.

Heather Seymour Heather Seymour 11:36 am 30 Sep 21

Maybe you could try to make friends with it by feeding it so it likes you. Just an idea. Good luck

Bryan Martin Bryan Martin 11:11 am 30 Sep 21

To follow up some comments. I haven’t done anything to this pair but marvel at them. We have at least 5 pairs of magpies around our property, been here 20 years, so many generations and nothing but loving having them around, their calls, they wait while I cultivate the vineyard or garden and then enjoy the harvest. The others are quite tame, we can walk a meter from them with our dogs & they just watch. This new pair set up quite close to the house last year & he just got set in his mind that I was a threat. It doesn’t bother me, and he comes very close sometimes. The video wasn’t shared because there’s some sort of battle going on that I must win, just the fun of farm life. We don’t & won’t feed them. They have plenty of bugs and worms around.

If I change hats he’ll leave me alone and doesn’t swoop anyone else out here.

It’s just our thing, and each time I get home safely, there’s that swagger from taking one for the team. I’m sure returning armed forces people feel the same

    Shay Daisy Shay Daisy 1:43 pm 30 Sep 21

    They are strange in who and when they swoop. There is one near my place who swoops me if I’m wearing my blue bike helmet but completely ignored me if I’m wearing my black helmet. Not sure if it is the colour or the (slightly) different shape of the helmet. Maybe the magpie is just trying to give me fashion advice! 🤣

Tai Aguilar Tai Aguilar 10:12 am 30 Sep 21

Brad Parker having a bit of trouble down your way

Geraldine Gregson Geraldine Gregson 9:19 am 30 Sep 21

As a cyclist have been swooped/attacked many times, see it as a badge of honour. They will hurt you if they can, they attack from the rear and go for the earlobes and eyes, have had my earlobes ripped at least twice. A bandana over the ears and glasses are standard kit at this time year. Just press on and ride hard. My partner saw a man attacked a week or so ago while walking close to where we live, left bloodied with a cut to his head. Let’s not forget the tragedy in a Qld park a few weeks ago, when a mother carrying a child was attacked, she dropped the child which died. Have nothing against Maggie’s they are doing what they do. But we live here to, if a dog randomly attacked like this other measures would ensue. In the Qld case the bird was euthanised.

John

    Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 9:35 am 12 Oct 21

    Geraldine Gregson there was the case of a child having an eye damaged during an attack at Kambah. Maybe 10 yrs ago

Juan Pablo Juan Pablo 7:55 am 30 Sep 21

Feed it some mince each day and it will stop shopping you

Tori Bx Tori Bx 12:44 am 30 Sep 21

Sam Hasler this is the sort of headline I like! 😹😹😹

Amber Nyhof Amber Nyhof 10:42 pm 29 Sep 21

Bryan Martin i just tagged dean in this and I didn’t even realise it was about u at first hahahaha

Jak Kanard Jak Kanard 3:39 pm 29 Sep 21

Bryan ! Feed the bird; problem solved, but the bird must engage with you, so you need to make sure you and the bird are looking at each other when you offer if food. Oats are good, or unsweetened muesli bars are ideal...no bread or mince meat. Good luck

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:57 am 29 Sep 21

I'm pleased I have a very nice couple of magpies living near my house. I have never been chased by them. Occasionally one will stand outside my window and look in. They are a mixed couple; a northerner and a southerner. Lots of people walk past the house and I have never seen them being chased either.

Arleen Stark Arleen Stark 10:35 am 29 Sep 21

You are all wrong! We have one in our gum tree out front who has nested there for years. He hates me and I have either ignored him and waited out nesting time, or told him he has nothing to worry about when he lands on my garden.

We have fed them, talked to them, ignored them, and it makes no difference. He ignores my husband, but attacks me 3 or 4 times, following me down the street, before giving up. Me and the postie! Last week I had a sore neck and scratched ear from him literally ramming into my helmet. My husband knows when I'm home from my ride and when the mail arrives, every time. I'm counting down the days, as surely the young will fledge soon!

    Bryan Martin Bryan Martin 6:06 am 30 Sep 21

    Arleen Stark I’m with you, this guy has never had a reason to focus on me, doesn’t attach my son or anyone else on the property including lots of other dudes, I think he just likes hassling me, waits for me each morning. I’ve found if I change hats during the days he’ll stop but then sometime he waits a while gets me used to it, then banh he claps his wings cm from my head.

    How do you ‘feed’ a magpie anyway? What with your hand or a fork?

    My family thinks it’s hilarious

    Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 8:29 am 30 Sep 21

    Bryan Martin you sit down, call it and throw some oats on the ground in front of you. Make sure you face him and he you and then talk to him.

    There's quite a few calls they make that you can mimic too.

Trevor Bennetts Trevor Bennetts 10:17 am 29 Sep 21

Feed and water it and it wont attack anymore. Magpies have long memory for kindness 👍

Suzie Ma Suzie Ma 7:40 am 29 Sep 21

Priya Walker content that I need

Patrick Robertson Patrick Robertson 6:54 pm 28 Sep 21

Give it some mince to eat.

Mick Bailey Mick Bailey 6:25 pm 28 Sep 21

Q. Has he done something to the bird to cause it to "single" him out?

Respect their intelligence.

Linda Stapleton Linda Stapleton 12:56 pm 28 Sep 21

mmmm war with a magpie...so who is meant to be the superior species here? No offence meant but surely making friends with the bird is a better option than war. Animals will sense your fear and your dislike of them...just a thought.

Jim Vizovitis Jim Vizovitis 12:07 pm 28 Sep 21

Just get out and feed him. In a matter of days you can have them eating out of your hand.

    Guy Noble Guy Noble 12:50 pm 28 Sep 21

    Jim Vizovitis yup play nice and they do,,,, we have had the same parents coming to us to feed there kids for years now

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