It’s the 18th December, and every time I ride past the end of my road a magpie clatters into my helmet. The first attack of the year came at the beginning of August, so that’s nearly 5 continuous months of them. Is this a Queensland thing?! That said, it must be unusual as it’s a full fortnight later than I’ve ever been swooped in previous years.
I was swooped in Thredbo region NSW, last week. Very late. But in Victoria it stopped a while back…
Apparently magpies have a good memory so if you are aggressive to them they remember this next year in the breeding/swooping season.
Yes, this I’ve heard - but have certainly never done anything to agitate them, accepting every attack with stoic good grace. And, given I’ve lived on the same road for many years and ride along it more often than anyone else (confirmed by my Strava ‘Local Legend’!), you’d think they’d know me by now.
If you see them coming I find it not such a problem, it’s when they catch you unaware that they scare the crap out of you.
They’re clever little buggers, though - they invariably attack from behind and unless they swoop you first, or happen to cast a shadow you can see, you generally don’t get any warning.
Weirdest attack I ever had: I used to own a jersey with a small Italian flag logo on the back of the collar. One time, a magpie hovered above my neck and repeatedly pecked at the flag … for the whole of a 400m descent, while I’m doing 55kph!!
Hmmm…400 meters is an awful long way to go without doing anything–your bike doesn’t have brakes? As in, after a few seconds of pecking, perhaps pull over, safely, and deal with the situation? We have crows in our area that regularly attack anything that moves, including hawks, cyclists, and the sort. One peck was all I needed to reel things back in…
Apparently you haven’t experienced a magpie attack. When nesting they’re territorial, so as long as you remain in their territory they keep attacking you; stopping makes things worse, your best strategy is to keep moving as quickly as possible. Generally they’ll stop after 100-200 metres.
I made friends with a local magpie close to home by putting some feed out for it in the area it was swooping. After a while it stopped seeing me as a threat and I never get swooped now.
Others in the area are still prone to swooping but only for a few weeks and then they stop.
If we ride in a bunch we rarely get swooped and if we do it is usually the back rider that cops it… A good reason to not sit on the back… lol…
I have often read this, as written by experts. My problem is, all i do is riode down the road, never act against a bird and never leave the road to go near their nest. The attack rides more than people on foot who are more likely to climb a tree I suspect. I have never seen a bike go up tree The birds seem to have a good PR company.
Here in SA there are certain places where I expect a magpie attack, but I’m usually not too worried about them, as they usually just click their beak threateningly as they fly over the top. In the last 20 years I have only had a magpie bang into my helmet once. They are usually worst in springtime, but the seasons are spreading and getting confused, so the attacks are starting earlier and finishing later, as I suppose their breeding times are varying a bit.
How would you deal with the situation?
That’s astonishing - one helmet strike in 20 years! I’d say in a normal season here in QLD, about 25-30% of all attacks are helmet strikes, but this year it’s been worse. I’ve also had them hit my back and arms, knock my sunglasses off and peck my scalp through the helmet vents. My last helmet (a Laser Genesis) was hit hard enough to put a small dent in it, and a friend had a chunk taken out of his ear. And to those who aren’t familiar, this is all totally unprovoked; just riding along the road, minding your own business, same as you do the rest of the year. When attacked, I keep my head as low as possible and carry on riding, don’t interact with the bird at all.
I’ve also heard the “remedy” about making peace with some offering of food (small pieces of mince, apparently?) and that they are then going to remember you and not see you as a threat. Might be worth waiting until they have finally stopped swooping - but given this one is at the end of your street, no doubt it’s worth experimenting!
(Might need to do it on your bike, in full kit, so he knows it’s you! )
Nice idea, with just a few small problems. Given the length of time and varying intensity of the attacks (all at the exact same spot), I suspect it has actually been 3 different birds. I see them all along my road, and they say that 90% of magpies don’t swoop, so how do I know if I’m feeding the aggressors? Being a vege, I don’t have anything in the house they can eat. Plus, a friend bought into this suggestion, fed an aggressive magpie on her road for months and it still attacked her come nesting season!
Hmmm - cable ties in the helmet for 5 months a year then…?
Seems crazy that your swooping season has gone so long - we seemed to have a particularly “aggressive” season in Victoria -plenty of helmet strikes this year - but at least it was relatively short!
Ah yes, cable ties - what a great look that is. To really make your fashion statement, you’ve got to be wearing them in April.
We always get a much longer swooping season up here than you Southerners - up to 4 months in the past - but this is extreme. Though still waiting for confirmation that it’s happening anywhere else outside of SE QLD.
Check magpiealert.com. There’s a chronicle of recent attacks under the map. Unsurprisingly, the 3 most recent attacks have occurred in Canberra. If ever The Birds gets remade, they’ll surely choose to film in Canberra from August to December.
Hard to say as I have been studiously avoiding any spots where I have been swooped (outer East Melbourne) - very small sample size, however…
a) I’ve had no recent new swoopings since about mid-November and
b) recently rode through two spots where others have reported swoopings on magpiealert.com and escaped unscathed
Never had any magpie problems in California, but I was chased by a turkey this morning.