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Mad Birds Torment Innocent Aussie Cyclists(13 posts)

Mad Birds Torment Innocent Aussie Cyclistswillem72
Oct 9, 2002 4:42 PM
It's springtime in the Great Southern Land and cyclists all over the country ride warily down tree-lined streets, keeping an eye out for agressive magpies who believe cyclists pose a threat to their nestlings.

Most magpies leave passers by alone, but about 10% of male magpies will swoop, divebomb, peck, claw, snap at and screech at pedestrians and bike riders once their eggs are hatched. Occasionally a very mad male will enlist the support of its female friend, and their victims are confronted with a relentless, coordinated double-barrelled attack until they depart the couple's territory (normally a few hundred metres). Children walking to school often wear plastic icecream buckets painted with watchful eyes as helmets in an effort to deter agressive magpies.

Australian magpies are about the size of a small crow, and although they have very sharp beaks, are not really large enough to cause adults a direct problem apart from a fright. Last year in Canberra a little girl died after contracting a virulent bacterial infection from a magpie which pecked her eye. But this is extremely rare. Danger commonly arises when cyclists, in an effort to avoid a sudden attack, swerve into the path of oncoming traffic.

The magpies attack from late September to late October, although a few late starters only hit their straps in November. Within a month they'll be forgotten by most of us for another year.

Do you have any similar birds in North America or Europe?

re: Mad Birds Torment Innocent Aussie Cyclistscp123
Oct 9, 2002 5:17 PM
I hear you W72. Guess who? Anyway, apart from the usual known ones, I've noticed a lot more "swooping bird" signs out around the traps. This morning in peak hour traffic as i was travelling up and over Barry Drive near ANU I was bombed repeatedly. Waved the arm around a bit but figured I probably needed to steer more. I could almost feel the people in cars having a giggle. I've been contacted a few times, but I know the flapping and the sound of the snapping beak doesn't freak me like it used to. I guess we just all ride a bit quicker past them.

Funny thing is though, I have a family of 6 at my place. They were always poking around whenever i was outside and i fed them once. That was it, they keep coming back every time i go out the door. Somedays I can barely get outside for being mobbed by all of them flying down off the wires scabbing for food. I've gotten the brave one to eat food out of my hand. Some of the babies are a bit woosy and jump up if you move suddenly, but the adults obviously think i'm worth knowing. But sometimes i wish they wouldn't all start calling at 5 am - each and EVERY morning...

Figure the friendly ones are better than the ratty ones.
re: Mad Birds Torment Innocent Aussie CyclistsGeds
Oct 9, 2002 6:54 PM
I actually read somewhere once that some of them are just doing it for a lark.

But if you look at them they actually hold off. I've never been too worried about them because of the helmet, but have either of you two been hit on the bike?

You guys both aren't in Canberra are you? There's a couple out on the Urriara-Cotter loop near the homestead that had a go at me on the weekend.
re: Mad Birds Torment Innocent Aussie Cyclistscp123
Oct 9, 2002 7:28 PM
I got a peck hole on the left side of the helmet one year but nothing more than that. But I've seen little kids totally freak out and run off the bikepath and almost crash. I haven't done cotter-uriarra loop for a month or so, but there's that deadly one on Cotter Rd near the Eucumbene Dr. corner who's been there for years. Four of us did Cotter to Tharwa on Sunday and didn't have any trouble. Not from birds anyway, but Pierce's creek hill was a bit of an effort.
re: Don't Forget Innocent KiwisPureClimber
Oct 9, 2002 8:02 PM
I too have a peck hole in the side of my lid. The magpies that patrol our roads in Spring are one thing I wish never crossed the Tasman.

Ever notice how Magpies often attack out of the sun? And the tag team approach they sometimes use?
Magpies= Rats with wings. They are...Brooks
Oct 10, 2002 7:58 AM
prevalant here in Utah, mostly hanging out near garbage dumpsters. They like to swoop at our cats in spring here and they are about the same size.

In an area that I used to ride was a lone tree next to the road. A hawk pair had a nest there that they returned to each year. The local bicycling community would pass the word to avoid that road when the hawks were nesting because the parent not on the nest would keep a lookout and chase off potential threats. We had a number of cyclists struck with open talons on shoulders or heads/helmets, or just scared the sh*# out of.
Oct 9, 2002 10:35 PM
I lived in a 5th floor flat in Sydney for a year or so, and had a blast watching the local Magpies hunting in the evenings. The spectacle of a pack of them swooping and diving between the neighboring buildings was like a scene out of that Independence Day Movie.

I was once "warned off" by a mother seagull in Nothern Wales.
only bird in the US that I know attacks is the Wipporwill (sp)maximum15
Oct 10, 2002 2:19 AM
Don't know if I spelled that correctly and I am not going to the dictionary. These birds are rather large, you can hear the wind moved by their wings during flight. Nests are on the ground and the female will act hurt and head away from the nest. If you keep going towards the nest, she will then swoop you -- don't know if one has ever touched a person. You would only encounter this bird mountain biking.
reminds me of a funny storyclimbo
Oct 10, 2002 6:34 AM
we were out riding and playing with the maggies. My younger brother (4 or 5 at the time) wanted to get swooped too so we told him to take his bike, walk out in to the field, wait there, and then when we yell out "DUCK" he should bunker down and cover himself with the bike. Sure enough, here comes the mad maggie, we wait until it swooops in, yell out "DUCK" !!! What does he do, he turns around and says "WHAT?" BANG !!!! Ouch, ooooh that hurt, he got swooped allright, he was OK though.
North American Avain Dangerklay
Oct 10, 2002 6:50 AM
The most dangerous bird I might encounter on a ride is probably an inattentive pigeon hanging out on the road.

In Chili cyclist fear the condor.... nmdivve
Oct 10, 2002 6:57 AM
re: Canadian Geese...Akirasho
Oct 10, 2002 7:58 AM
... round here, we've got a few wetlands and reserves within the urban environs inhabited by these... and when they're nesting, they get extremely aggressive... when the gosslings emerge, they become extremely extremely aggressive.

I've been flapped and pecked at for getting too close (and they don't back down... partly because they're used to the abovementioned urban setting).

A few times, out in the country, I've been stooped by small raptors, but they pull out before they get too close.

One of the oddest was contact with a raven... I think it was simply a case of a physics experiment gone wrong (or right)... we both tried to occupy the same space at the same time (came out of nowhere on a trail and flew into my side).

Lastly, geese are fast when on the wing... they've pulled away from me at 25+ mph.

We abide.

Remain In Light.

Be the bike.
Damn SUV driving, over-agressive birds!!empacher6seat
Oct 10, 2002 11:45 AM

I'll second the Canadian geese threat. There's an ongoing war every summer between geese and rowers in Victoria, BC. Sometimes our crew will be racing through the waters and we'll plow through a flock of geese on the water... most are smart enough to just move out of the way, but some charge the boat and once in a while, they're smacked by an oar and die. They get us back by flying head first at the boat, top speed... and then breaking off to either side literally feet away from us. There's also a good 4 inch thick layer of bird s#%@ on the docks that seams to double in thickness every year, no matter how often we powerwash the damn things!