8 October 2020

Probing the polls: supporting the vote and murderous maggies

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Magpie

Territorial magpies have an eye on pedestrians, cyclists and the occasional hash brown. Photo: File.

As the ACT election looms (and the US one immediately after that), a majority of RiotACT readers have shrugged off suggestions that voting is a boring burden and defended the importance of participatory democracy.

Apathy about the outcome seems widespread across Canberra and it’s a rare election in the ACT that delivers majority government in any case. But while people moan about corflutes and cast aspersions on the calibre of our political leadership, they still think that voting matters.

Last week’s poll asked: Would you vote in this ACT election if you didn’t have to do so?

A total of 1083 people cast their votes. Your options were to vote ‘No, it seems to make no difference whatsoever in the ACT’. This received 29 per cent of the total, or 314 votes.

Your alternative was to vote ‘Yes, voting is a democratic duty and protects us from extremism’. This received 71 per cent of the total, or 769 votes.

This week we’ve moved on from matters of state to personal safety.

Spring has well and truly sprung in the national capital and with it, the rage of the magpies descends on our otherwise quiet streets.

David Murtagh called them “evil, rotten, malevolent, dead-eyed bastards” and pointed out that defending their nests or not, “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.”

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

Readers were violently divided over this provocative description of the carolling maggies and their innocent babies.

Sean (incidentally occupying much the same territory as some other Region Media staff, not naming anyone in particular), wrote “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”.

Rebecca added: “Magpies are beautiful, intelligent birds and make great friends. Love them.”

But Karen accused the black and white troubadours of grave crimes.

“They are thieves. They stole my maccas hash brown. Both times happened 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,” she wrote.

And Albert said: “I can imagine the conga line of sedentary, diesel driving, nature channel experts that will decry your article”, before going on to suggest that intimidating magpies bear some responsibility for the general decline in public health because they stop people using the bike paths.

Our question this week is:

Magpies in spring, love'em or hate 'em?

View Results

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Jim Mitchell6:25 am 12 Oct 20

Magpies are great birds and full of fun. They won’t swoop you if you feed them. It’s said magpies can recognize up to 20 faces, I don’t how true that is but I do know I can walk through our local Magpie’s domain and not get dive bombed unlike the other pedestrians walking past :-).

Amanda Kiley9:25 am 09 Oct 20

You shouldn’t have to feed an animal to stop it hurting you, apart from awful pluvers, magpies are the only birds who swoop for no reason. Many aren’t protecting nests – I’ve been swooped in the open not near any trees. Would not miss them if they were all culled.

Peewees swoop too, and I have also been dived by a willy wagtail and hit by it. The last example didn’t hurt though, but gave a good laugh to a witness.

The urban magpie population should be sensibly managed. It would be reasonable to cull individual magpies that are particularly vicious, with a view to eventually breeding an urban population less prone to attack and injure humans. It’s ludicrous to protest that we are interfering with nature by undertaking such a breeding program when we are talking about urban populations of the birds – that horse has bolted. Cull the swoopers, remove and destroy their nests, and cull the bird that has decided that a vicious swooper is what it wants in a mate. They’re birds, not people.

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