Swooping season …

The Australian magpie. An innocent enough looking little chap, eh?

What about now? Not so innocent now, is he (or she, who knows)? In fact it is enough to make you soil your bike knicks when you hear that loud swooping wing noise and then get whacked on the helmet (if you’re lucky) or clawed on the ear or face (if you’re not so lucky).

It is swooping (nesting) season here at the moment (just starting). I got swooped three times on the way home from work last Wednesday, so on the weekend I did the “cable tie” thing with my helmet. That is, I connected about eight long cable ties to my helmet so they stick out upwards and sideways from my helmet. The theory here is that whilst it may not stop the swoop, it does mean the magpie doesn’t get quite so close as it swoops at the outer edge of the cable tie zone. So far, since doing it I haven’t been swooped, so can’t tell you if it works (and I’m happy if it never gets tested).

In previous seasons I’ve been swooped heaps of times, have had the helmet banged a few times, but have been lucky enough not to have had blood drawn.

This article in todays Herald-Sun though has me doubting my “cable tie” strategy. The article saysย “Victoria’s University of New England animal behaviourist Prof Gisela Kaplan said helmets sprouting cable ties and eyes on the back of them, and even sunglasses, made cyclists look more menacing, encouraging magpies to defend their territory.”

Anyone have any theories, or want to share their experience? Is getting swooped by birds an Australian thing or does it happen eleswhere too?

Of course, there is one even more obnoxious sort of Magpie, isn’t there?

10 Responses to “Swooping season …”

  1. Ewen Says:

    I’d feel safer with cable ties. Have heard they work in that the magpie doesn’t slam into your helmet – as you said, they still swoop.

    On another note… “we are the Navy Blues!”

  2. Kath (My Funny Little Life) Says:

    Wow, this is like in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”! Creeps!

  3. Carla Says:

    Here in Montreal we have the redwinged blackbirds that attack people’s heads! It is more funny than anything. They especially seem to like swooping in on children! My kids have been “warned off” at the park many times by these birds. I think they make their nest, lay eggs, and then spend the rest of their time scaring people off when they should really be sitting on their eggs! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. oldgirlnewtricks Says:

    Here in the city of Toronto, birds make their nests downtown and then swoop and attack people walking by. One day there was a deer in downtown TO. It was super scared. They were able to catch it and it was unharmed. A large area was cordonned off but people were glad to help! Animals, eh?

  5. Em Says:

    Ughh, much prefer the first Magpie, at least they have a nice warble and won’t steal your car.

    When I was a kid we used to walk to school with old ice cream containers on our heads, didn’t really stopped the swooping but it stopped the maggies drawing blood. We may have looked a little bit, umm “special”, but the other kids did it too ๐Ÿ˜†

    To pick up where Ewen left off “the old dark Navy Blues, we’re the team that never lets you down…..”

  6. blues buffett Says:

    Ewen said it all..

  7. morseyruns Says:

    Yep- the blues have got eagles to worry about! If cable ties work then I would keep using them- and I like to ignore any study that claims to know what a bird actually thinks. We were also terrified of them as kids and I recall walking to the bus stop holding a tennis racquet above my head..

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