Keep an eye on the magpies over the next month or so, and we're not talking about the Colliwobbles at the MCG.
Spring brings some much-needed respite from a cold and wet winter of riding, but it also means magpie mating/nesting season — or as most of us know it, swooping season.
For the next few months, while the female magpie nests her eggs, you will notice an increase in terrifying incidents of male magpies defending the nest against (mostly innocent) passersby.
While his feather shadow can instill fear into the heart of the bravest bike riders, Grainne Cleary, author of Your Backyard Birds told the Herald Sun that the swoop is actually the last of several warnings the magpie will give you.
“You will be walking along and the magpie will give his little warning, which we often ignore, and he will give another warning like ‘danger, don’t come too close’ and, of course, we ignore it and that’s when we come too close,” she said. “That’s when the magpie will start swooping.”
The two initial warnings Ms Cleary speaks of are verbal cues, for those who speak magpie.
But for many bike riders who miss these initial warnings as we focus on the road ahead, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning suggest the following tips to avoid being attacked:
• Know your local swooping hot spots
• Avoid the area
• Move quickly
• Cover your head
• Eyes at the back of your head. Draw a pair of “eyes” and attach to the back of hats and helmets.
• Do not harass wildlife
• Do not destroy nests
• Don’t feed swooping birds
• Travel in a group
• Notify others
There's also the Magpie Alert website, where you can share and track current incidents, which already shows 91 attacks in Victoria since the start of August, eighteen of which resulted in injury.
Ms Cleary's best advice is to to acknowledge the magpie by making eye contact, if possible, and continuing on your way.
“These birds are very intelligent, so if you make eye contact with them and just acknowledge them and walk (or ride) on and don’t bother them, it helps,” she said.
Feature image from the hilariously-terrifying viral video documentary:
Amber vs the Magpie - The Eyes Don't Work
Become our friend
Find out more about Bicycle Network and support us in making it easier for people to ride bikes.