Friday, October 5, 2012

Magpie swooping season

If you wanted yet another reason to hate Collingwood, magpie-swooping season may be just what you're looking for.

If you've ventured outdoors in recent months, you may well have experienced the indignity of being dive-bombed by an overly-agressive bird with delusions of grandeur. That's because it's nesting season and by walking or cycling past their tree, you're a threat.

Some facts (that I stole form this Australian Geographic article):
  • 9-12% of all magpies swoop aggressively.
  • Nearly all attacks take place during nesting, between August and November.
  • 99% of swoops on humans are by male magpies.
  • 52% of swooping magpies target pedestrians and ignore cyclists. They’ll also let most people walk by untroubled, swooping on just 35 per cent of them.
  • 8% of aggressive birds target only cyclists, showing no interest in pedestrians but going for 65 per cent of passing bike riders.
  • 29% of aggressive magpies target both cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Sometimes swooping magpies target specific individuals – repeatedly attacking one person in a family and leaving the rest alone. They have long-term memories so can continue attacking an individual years later.
So, are there any ways to avoid being attacked? Well, some people seem to think so. Like this person;

The effectiveness of the zip-tire remedy is championed by some. But does it really work? No one really knows. Proponents of the method claim it does, but then, effective or not, I'd claim it worked too if I looked like that.

And here's photographic evidence that perhaps it's not so effective;

You could try affixing a model magpie to your helmet;

Or do this, whatever this is;

Failing all that, which it inevitably will, why not try this (which I came across on Lisa Jacob's blog)? It's proof that strategy consultants can solve just about anything.

Do you, dear reader, have any tips on avoiding the dreaded magpie?


  1. My understanding of the cable tie method is that it does nothing to deter magpies swooping it just stops them hitting you as they have get through a tangle of stiff plastic.

  2. A couple of years ago some CSIRO scientists did a 'back of the envelope' study on magpie swooping + cable ties etc:

    1. That's great, Andy. Thanks. I'll have to update the post with this information.