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Old 09-30-08, 02:56 AM   #1
Chaderotti
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it's magpie season...

I got attacked yesterday
Riding along then I hear this loud snap sort of sound and my helmet was thrown forward. I thought it was some punk kid so I slow down a bit, turn my head and I see this pissed off magpie flying behind me! I was paranoid for the rest of my ride

Anything you aussies out there do to protect yourself? I guess a helmet (obviously) and sunglasses would be the best. Rather a battle scar than losing depth perception!
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Old 09-30-08, 03:02 AM   #2
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Ah yes, magpie season. It's been up and running in these parts for six weeks or so. You get used to it. On occasions I've ended up with nasty cuts on my ear as a result of a magpie that missed the helmet. Worse are the butcher birds that try to mimick other birds, and spend a month or so each year thinking they're magpies. They tend to be a bit more erratic -- I copped one of those in the side of my face once.

As far as protecting yourself goes, I don't think there's really much you can do beyond avoiding the really bad ones (there's one near Uki in Northern NSW that once chased me for 5km). I've heard of people painting eyes on the back of their helmet, but that only works on some magpies and not others. The most important thing to remember is not to let them distract you from your riding. Remember, the absolute worst thing a magpie can do to you is not going to be anywhere near as severe as a crash, so keep your eyes on the road, and let the magpie do it's worst.
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Old 09-30-08, 05:03 AM   #3
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The most important thing to remember is not to let them distract you from your riding. Remember, the absolute worst thing a magpie can do to you is not going to be anywhere near as severe as a crash, so keep your eyes on the road, and let the magpie do it's worst.
Easier said than done unfortunately. I've been trying to ride with this mentality but as soon as I got swooped (just a warning flyby no beak clack or contact) I decided to find alternative routes.

It is really bizarre the way magpies freak you out more than say the hoons that swear they'll kill you next time. I really have no clue what to do. Some say long cable ties sticking up out of your helmet works. Some say they've still been swooped regardless. Just treat them with respect - they are protected so it's illegal to harm them and they're said to have good memories. Swiping at them with a weapon may get them off your back but they'll go harder at the next bike/postie.

I think the best thing you can do is probably dismount and face them. They won't swoop and will actually abort a swoop if they realize you're watching. A loud clap can also help.

Last edited by OlShrimpEyes; 09-30-08 at 05:16 AM.
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Old 09-30-08, 05:04 AM   #4
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Yep, nesting and chick season are well in swing. On my 25km one-way shopping trip each Sunday, I have to encounter around five pairs for the past four weeks. This past Sunday I got a peck on my right ear. A nudge on the helmet and a scream are the usual forms of attack.

I use the shadows to wave my arm above my head to stop them from actually connecting. I thought I had ridden out of range from the one that got my ear, but he was persistent.

I think the birds also set up a bit of a semaphore system, squawking to along the chain until they get to the attack bird.

Back in 2002, on a highway not far from where I now live, I was attacked by several birds, and found later three or four deep "puncture" marks in the back of the helmet.

Oddly, there is a family on the driveway into the property where I work, and they don't seem to have a problem with me riding back and forth each day.

After Sunday's ear peck, I am now seriously considering attaching two zip ties through the rear vents of the helmet so they stick upwards.

I saw a female cyclist the other day going in the opposite direction with them on, and have seen a number of randonneurs also equipped with the zip ties. It will make me look like My Favourite Martian, but evidently is a deterrent to the birds actually making contact.

Just to get an idea of the aggression magpies can take on when they are nesting, I have seen several encounters between them and crows, and the crows have sped off in complete terror. Then, I have seen crows giving wedgetailed eagles a hard time in a similar fashion.

It's times like these when I am glad the Magpies didn't make the grand final -- being AFL premiers and being attacked by them just would be too much.
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Old 10-06-08, 02:54 AM   #5
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What I need is a tandem, a squash racquet and a daring & ruthless accomplice. Is anyone in?
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Old 10-06-08, 03:45 AM   #6
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I feel for you guys, I've encountered some aggressive seagulls when kayaking. The rotating motion of the paddle evens it out a bit as seagulls seem to have trouble figuring out which part of offender to attack and how close to swoop. I just concentrate on what I'm doing, keep the bottom side of the kayak down, make eye contact if I can (that usually stops seagulls) and try to paddle my way out of the war zone.

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Old 10-08-08, 01:03 AM   #7
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Cable ties work well, get a pack of big ones from Bunnings. I put two pointing back and two pointing up and out (protect the ears, protect against strike from the back).

ChrisL, there is a picture on the net somewhere of a recumbent tandem... with the stoker facing backwards! That's the machine you need.
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Old 10-08-08, 10:18 AM   #8
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I didn't know what a magpie was, so I did a Google image search, and this popped up at the top of the 1st page, haha!

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Old 10-08-08, 12:15 PM   #9
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Cable ties work well, get a pack of big ones from Bunnings. I put two pointing back and two pointing up and out (protect the ears, protect against strike from the back).

ChrisL, there is a picture on the net somewhere of a recumbent tandem... with the stoker facing backwards! That's the machine you need.
I believe this would suit your needs..the MIC WIC Delta.

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Old 10-09-08, 04:09 AM   #10
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Last weekend seemed to signal an even more aggressive attack, especially from a bird that frequents a four-way junction in a small township called Thornton. This is the one that the previous week pecked my ear. Last weekend he gave me a few nudges from behind.

I was attacked by three or four others on a 60km shopping ride. I think the chicks have hatched, hence the more aggressive nature of the attacks.

In Thornton for the past two weekends, the attacks have provided some entertainment for pedestrians. I suppose it must look a sight for someone not on a bike. It's certainly interesting to see the dive and pull-up (in most cases) in shadow form as I ride along.

Apart from the divebombing, the birds also snap their wings in some way as they pull up from the dive at the last moment so for the unsuspecting, the only clue of their near presence initially can be a cracking sound right at your ear.

And of course there then comes the frantic warbling, and when you hear the relayed message along the road, you just know there are further attacks in store!
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Old 10-09-08, 04:38 PM   #11
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Blegh I know what you mean.

Head the swoosh and distinctive clack of the beak and immediately turned around the first time it happened this season. If there is a particularly aggressive and persistent one don't be afraid to call the local council and have it removed.

There used to be one in my city that would attack cyclists frequently, but where most will attack from behind or to the side this one always came in from the front, swooped low and attacked the eyes, even getting past glasses. He sent at least one cyclist off to the emergency ward with a scratched cornea and quite a few ugly cuts around the face and ears.
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