Magpie_swooping (1024x602)
  • Just like being bitten by mozzies, there seems to be that one person who always gets attacked. Ride spring with that person.

  • Someone once told me that magpies are like snakes – the first person scares them, the second gets bit. I’ve yet to 100% prove it, but nevertheless a magpie segment is the only time you’ll see me riding on the front these days!

    • scottmanning

      I agree Wade. I often ride in pairs or three’s. The guy on the back get’s hit every time.

      • anyoldbike

        Actually, I think it is up to the maggie – we had a mate who got nailed (same maggie) regardless of where he rode in a group of up to 12 of us. We found it a lot more entertaining than he did and we were always glad to have him along on the ride.
        I think other maggies my target the first rider and others get whichever one they can.

  • Doug

    In Australia you can report magpie strikes here http://www.magpiealert.com/

  • jules

    magpies don’t worry me that much. i’ve probably just been lucky. I find that turning around randomly and taking a swipe at them can shake their confidence. or at least, I like to believe it does.

    • I had a particularly embarrassing moment one day with a magpie chasing me. It had already had one swoop at me and had gone up high in preparation for its next dive in my direction. As I turned to have a look at it, the magpie was beginning its descent. I screamed at it and shook my finger, pointing at it. The magpie continue to hover about 5 m off the ground waiting for me to turn away towards the front again. I did so, and then turned back quickly to make sure it didn’t sweep. It had just begun to dive when it’s all me turn again and rose up high. I screamed at it again and continue to point my finger at it. It was only a few moments later that I realised that there was a car behind me. The driver thought that I was pointing at him and screaming at him and telling him to get lost. He was obviously completely unaware of the fact that a magpie was hovering a few metres above his car waiting for me to turn towards the front so that it could finally attack me to protect its brood. The driver began to yell at me. He gestured at me with his “rude” finger. And all the while, the magpie remained above that car just waiting for its chance. Eventually I must’ve gotten out of range, and then I had to explain to the driver what had been going on when he pulled up at the next set of lights and was ready to thump me.

      • jules

        haha, it’s usually cyclists who mistake drivers as being aggressive towards them, rather than the other way around!

  • coreying

    I find even the most aggressive maggies won’t come in for the “bite” if they think that you’ve spotted them. So if you’re riding through a maggie area, or even if you hear them swooping, quickly look to the left, and then keep looking there for 1 to 2 seconds, then quickly look to the right and keep looking there for 1 to 2 seconds. Then quickly look forward ( at the road!) and then repeat. The idea is to have head movement like the birds themselves have when “on the lookout”. They then back off.

    This has successfully kept me safe with maggies that are so vicious that you regularly see riders with blood pouring for their ears and neck…

    • Dale Smith

      I like it. To beat the bird you’ve got to think like a bird!!

    • afd

      I think that was working for me the other day! I literally saw one magpie bend and flex its wings ready for take off, then stay on the ground as my eyes landed on it. don’t even think about it, buster!

  • GT

    Never forget one time I was on my own on a loop from Chiltern to Myrtleford in northern Vic, on some roads between the dairy farms. Along there lives the planets most vicious Magpie. That damned bird chased me for nearly 2 km’s, eventually I had to stop and face him before he flew to the fence and sat and watched me.

    • Sean parker

      Yep, there’s a stretch near chiltern where they ‘handover’ from one to another as you pass through adjacent territories…. I swear you can almost hear them say ‘he’s all yours, dave’

      • Lyrebird_Cycles

        When I lived up there a decade or so ago our local group had action star names for all the local maggies, started out when a particularly repetitive one got called “Arnie” for the obvious reason. We had Dolff, Jackie, Bruce, Chuck etc.

        Bruce disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

        • Wily_Quixote

          We cooked Bruce.

          He tasted lovely with some sage and mushrooms.

  • scooter

    Once you’ve been attacked by an eagle, magpies aren’t such a big deal.

    • Unbelievable

      show off! :-)

    • Marc

      Just got swooped by a Boeing 747. Nasty!

  • Bomber

    A shotty is the best way to deal with an aggressive magpies. But luckily for said magpies we don’t have open carry in Australia. ;)

    • jules

      concealed sawn-off shotty is your friend. also useful for angry motorists :)

  • Mark Bethany Fairweather

    In my experience, Magpies have never drawn blood, the first hit is a shock. After that I try to look up the road and hunch my shoulders so that my neck is hidden. I will often get a few more attacks on my helmet, because it is the highest point, but try to ignore them. I find that if you show little reaction to their attacks they leave you alone pretty quick. They are just trying to bully and scare you away, maintain your position and speed to show you have no interest in them. Worst thing you can do is stop.

    • ginga_ninja

      You must live around some nice magpies Mark, be thankful for that. ;)

      • Mark Bethany Fairweather

        Not particularly, i get attacked every time I go for a ride. Whether it’s on my commute to work or a spin along a local favourite route. I got attacked 5 times by a pair of birds yesterday. I think i have just learnt to accept the inevitable and go with the flow. I think that if you duck you are more likely to get hit on the back so give them something to hit, your helmet. Keep your eyes forward so they don’t get your ears and protect your neck.

    • Coogs

      There are some bad ones that go for the eyes. A young boy had his eye irreparably damaged by a magpie on a bike track in Brisbane last year. The authorities finally got rid of the bird.

    • Sean parker

      I agree, I just ignore them now. There’s only 2 in 20+ years of riding that have drawn blood. Waving your hands like a maniac does nothing , except losing dignity.

  • Unbelievable

    If I want to let a brother, or sister, know that there’s a magpie down the road, what’s the internationally recognized hand signal? Is it in the rules? http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

    Also, there is certainly no better education about the terrors of the magpie than this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGGTcYfrEZU

    • Aaron Heaysman

      Thats awesome, haha.

  • ginga_ninja

    Haha, thanks again Chloe. For the more savage maggies, I grab my water bottle and squirt them. 10 points for a strike. ;) This works pretty well and they seem to back off but dehydration is the down-side of this one, depending on how many maggies are on your loop.

  • lowercasev

    I employ the “shortest person in the group tactic”. Magpies generally will swoop the highest head, so I just tuck in and suck wheel during the frantic escape. You will owe your fiends a coffee at the coffee shop, and offer your napkin to dab their bloodied ears!

  • lowercasev

    Oh and… some people have more balls than others!
    https://instagram.com/p/6n-cOPGxCf/?taken-by=purd12

  • lowercasev
  • Coogs

    Only 3 to 6 weeks off? Last year I was swooped in the last week of August through to the first week in November. Different suburbs, but the same city. I’d have to take all of spring off and a week either side if I adopted that tactic.

  • Tim Johnson

    I don’t know if its the same everywhere, but in Canberra I’ve noticed that we’re attacked far less when riding in a group of three or more compared with riding solo, or even in pairs. Last year we watched a girl a few hundred metres in front of us on one ride get attacked mercilessly by a particularly aggressive maggie – it didn’t just swoop but hovered and kept pecking at her head. But when we rode through in a group of four, it came nowhere near us. I’ve had the same experience in a few other spots too – been swooped when solo, but the same magpie has left us alone when in a group.

    Unlike Chloe, I’ve also had pretty good fortune with the water bottle tactic – waving it around and sometimes a bit of a spray towards the magpie when you hear the wings coming has been pretty effective.

  • Annie.

    Uhu, no more complaining about winter setting in (even less so as autumn has brought us a lot of sunny and mild days – about 18°C today, for example – so far) soon. I’d probably hate those birds (and I’ll keep in mind that “eyes don’t work” :D )…

  • Monique

    I have found employing offspring to wave clappers to be an effective tactic in the past. As long as the magpie swoops from behind it is a ‘fun game!’

  • Derek Maher

    Love this article,Our magpies in Ireland love bling,Colour or shine really attracts them.Now this might work.Some food in a tinfoil rapper thrown in the air will distract them even better if its a sunny day.Then sprint like hell.

  • Willbert

    You poor Aussies! Here in Colorado we have a friendlier version of magpie that just please us with their antics; like recognizing themselves in glass, giving tribute to a fallen (magpie) comrade, or picking the road-kill off the roads!

  • Donny

    Ride a little faster, eyes straight ahead and wave one of your arms over your head. Remember you can usually see them moving about by looking at the shadows on the road as well.

  • Sean

    They’re not all evil. We have a pair of magpies that have a nest in a neighbors tall tree. They swoop most walkers and riders pretty aggressively. Interestingly whenever we go out on to our deck, they’ll often come to visit, obviously hopeful for some food. If our sliding door is left open and we’re inside, they’ll even sneak into the house and they hop around looking for us. Its usually a matter of picking them up and taking them outside.

    They seem to know us when riding or walking on the street that runs past their nest, we’ve never once been swooped by this pair.

  • velocite

    There was a fascinating program about maggies on Radio National the other day. They live quite a long time and stay in the same territory all their lives – so the maggie that attacked you in the main street of Yarra Glen yesterday was the same one that got you last year. And..he remembered you! This knowledge doesn’t help, but it is interesting:

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/offtrack/magpie-behaviour-not-black-and-white/6746260

    • BBB

      That one in the main street of Yarra Glen is nasty!

  • Mark Wells

    Magpies are very misunderstood, listen to this doco on Radio National from a few weeks ago and I’m certain you’ll have much more respect for them. Incidentally, even though we characterise the yearly battle with them in quite an amusing way, they can be really dangerous and the researcher in the documentary suggests each year more than one person loses an eye – so I’d recommend wearings sunnies if you know you are entering a strike zone. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/offtrack/magpie-behaviour-not-black-and-white/6746260

  • Bex

    i go the track sprinter approach, just ride along looking over my shoulder. This keeps the magpies at bay (they’ll start their swooping run but peel off before they get too close) but on the back roads where there’s no centre line i tend to end up in the oncoming lane which is more dangerous than being swooped in the first place.

  • Just yell at them!

    https://vimeo.com/28004846

  • DamSarahDam

    Since buying a black and white helmet last spring I haven’t been swooped once, not sure if it is a coincidence, anyone else with a black and white mojito found the same?

    • Andy B

      I have a couple of helmets including black and white and they still swoop me :(

      Having said that they really seem to dislike Poc’s

    • Mark Kelly

      There’s a magpie near Brunswick velodrome that dislikes my red helmet but never objects to my blue one of the same make & model.

  • Andy B

    I have to strategically plan my route to work during spring based on magpie attacks
    If I take my usual route im up for two plovers, and 4 separate magpies in 20 kms
    one of the magpies is particularly aggressive and follows you a stop sign at a busy intersection (can be hard to stop whilst being attacked)
    They are angry angry birds
    Can’t help but laugh whilst being attacked

  • scottmanning

    What I find works best is to look at them. Yes, you have to constantly swap between where you are going and the bird.. and not going too fast helps. As I approach a known bird, or after the first hit from an unknown, glance back at them and I it will back off. Look forward, check your path, then back at the bird. It’s likely set-up for another attack but turning to look at it, it will abort a close swoop. Repeat until you are out of their attack zone.

  • woowoowoo

    First, I would replace “how vicious and evil the magpie is”, with “how brave, tenacious and selfless the magpie is”. They are only little birds doing what comes naturally.
    Second, a tactic I’d love to see employed: Magpies are incredibly intelligent and loyal birds. They remember people, faces, and routines for years. I wonder what would happen if, every day, a cyclist stopped in a magpie’s swooping zone, and left a little gift of food. I reckon, for many magpies, this would turn those funny wheely people into friends, not foes.
    They might even chase away the dogs!

  • Ian Wright

    Magpie alert is the go, you can avoid the hot spots. Remember it’s ony 10% of males and less than 1% of female birds that swoop, so it’s not as bad as you think. For those that ride Kinglake in Melbourne’s North there is a bird near Panton Hill who can give you a bit of grief going to Kinglake as you ascend a small hill. He can be avoided by going via Hurstbridge, ie, Kangaroo Ground to Wattle Glen, Hurstbridge then up to Panton Hill.

  • Peter Q

    I’m sporting a cut on my right ear from a maggie in Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn last Saturday afternoon. Three direct hits from behind with load squawking in the space of 20 seconds. Now doubt Ice addicted and on steroids but I had to admire her skill and expertise.

  • Eat More Lard

    Mirrored sunglasses. Works everytime. They swoop on in, you turn and give them a look, they see themselves and do an emergency abort. Probably not the best tactic in traffic, though….

  • Nate

    I usually resort to hissing and watching them, but on a long ride the other weekend I actually found that ringing my bell seemed to deter them too!

  • Nathan Hosking

    I might also add – use the shadows to your advantage… Sure it only works on sunny days and when the angles are in your favour, but tracking the bird via its shadow has worked for me a few times through ducking at the last moment.

  • Kim

    I haven’t read all the comments so I apologise if someone else has already mentioned that magpie seasons have been much shorter since Malthouse was given the flick

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