Replies: 9 - Last Post: Nov 27, 2012 5:21 AM Last Post By: man_from_Oz
Oct 4, 2012 9:04 PM
Currently cycling around New Zealand, have been getting attacked numerous times daily by magpies. For some reason this really freaks me out and has made me very paraniod. I know that they are protecting their nests etc my question is what can I do about this and how long can I expect this to continue, the entire spring season??
Oct 4, 2012 10:06 PM
1Poor Frodo, at least you've got a helmet on so they can't do too much damage when they strafe you from behind.
For some reason some magpies really dislike cyclists. Some tips:
Pipecleaners or cable ties sticking out the top of your helmet. Things sticking out the top of a helmet seem to deter the swoop at the last second. There was also some groundbreaking research that suggested putting a big curly wig over your helmet. I'm not joking, apparently it was the most effective thing the researchers tried.
Also, I recommend wearing sunglasses, that way your eyes are protected in case one gets a lucky claw to your face.
Some will keep it up until November but most will give it up once their chicks are hatched and out of the nest, around mid-October.
Oct 5, 2012 2:58 AM
Oct 5, 2012 3:03 AM
3I hate antipodean magpies!
I haven't been to NZ in the spring, but had a lot of bad experiences in Oz. The worst was multiple attacks virtually every day on a 2 plus month ride from Brisbane to Cape Trib (Queensland). The only upside of the experience was that my fear of dogs subsided and was replaced by maggies.
I have spent a bit of time researching this problem and basically I don't reckon that any of the suggestions for frightening them off really work. What you do find is that maggies from different areas have different levels of fear. In rural areas, it is usually a bomb your head (helmet) while trying to keep their distance as a way of driving you off. In urban areas the maggies have got a lot more savvy and know the helmet is protection so go for ears (twice bitten), eyes (seen horrible pics on i'net) and one once hit me very hard on the neck just below the ear - couldn't sleep on tha side for a few days. It seemed the urban maggies weren't frifghtened by anything and learnt quickly.
This all means that maybe some more timid birds may be warned off by one of the many methods, but the more savvy ones just hit you elsewhere. I have a set of eyes on my helmet and apart from amusing the locals, I still got hit regularly.
The only thing I found was that the colour of your helmet might attract a few more attacks. Mine is a shiney almost metallic blue and I was getting hit all the time. I met someone with a white one and he didn't seem to suffer so much.
I agree about keeping your eyes covered - they can go for them.
At least in NZ they will control them if the are a problem to people, whereas in Oz they are protected and it is an AU$5000 fine if you hurt them.
Good luck and you have my sympathy.
Oct 5, 2012 11:46 AM
Oct 5, 2012 4:50 PM
5Maybe you could glue some kind of eyes (for a doll or stuffed toy) from a craft shop on the helmet. It would be best if they moved. I was listening to a programme about corvids (birds from the magpie and crow family) and visual tracking and if you get the eye thing convincing it should work.
But they are very smart and learn quite fast. They can teach other birds, so birds who don't like a particular person will teach other birds to attack that person even though they haven't seen them before. Fascinating. (But not much help to you.)
Oct 5, 2012 8:27 PM
6Thanks everyone for your ideas and sympathy! Most people crack up and think it's a great joke! But it's really dangerous, I've made a few dodgey moves to evade magpies over the past few weeks, and if any cars were coming I'd be dead.
What I have been doing is just keeping alert of magpies, checking all the fields etc If they see you looking at them then they dont do a thing, If I dont spot them then it is on!
I was in Aussie a few years ago and was amazed at how brutal the magpies were! I was very afraid of them, alot worse than what I have experienced in NZ so far. I tried fake eys on the helmet, cable ties while in Aussie and nothing worked, they continued to smash me daily.
I just hope nesting season is over shortly!
Oct 5, 2012 11:19 PM
7I don't bother with the cable ties or the eyes on the back of the helmet: magpies are just part of the atmosphere of Spring in Aus/NZ. Magpies will still swoop regardless of what paraphernalia you adorn your helmet with, but will pull up sooner with cable ties giving the rider a feeling of security.
Magpies only swoop when you are in their territory and defending their nest. The radius of protection around the nest is quite small so you can usually sprint clear within a few seconds. If you are a confident bike handler, maintaining eye contact with the bird will stop it from swooping, although this is a little harder if you are on unfamiliar terrain.
Oct 13, 2012 2:46 AM
8Reading this thread brought a smile to my face. Its probably ten years since i cycled around New Zealand, but even now, I can remember the ominous sign of a rapidly approaching shadow in front and right, which heralded yet another magpie dive bomb attack!
Scary at first, irritating but mostly harmless i think... Unless any cyclist here says an attack got more serious? The most important thing, is not to wobble the bike when they are divebombing in case of the traffic behind.
Nov 27, 2012 5:21 AM
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