We’ve answered the big questions on bird attacks: Why are the birds angry? Does it happen all over the world? And what can you do about it? We also risked our skin in our own ‘flipping the bird’ experiment:
Traditionally, spring means short kits, tan lines, and then bird attacks. Red-winged blackbirds aggressively defend nests in America and Canada; and big old buzzards attack in the UK countryside. But nothing compares to the swoop of the omnipresent magpie in Australia and New Zealand.
But we discovered that magpies aren’t really angry. They’re just doing they’re job and they’ve got a damn good reason to do it well. If they aren’t an effective defender of the nest, their magpie missus will simply give them the boot.
Now most Australians have had a bad childhood magpie experience and a national survey has confirmed that 90% of males and 72% of females have been attacked at some time in their lives. And for some reason, nearly half of all magpie attacks are aimed squarely at cyclists.
So what can we do to stop them?
Well we’ve seen YouTube videos where afro wigs worn over helmets apparently confuse the birds. But then why do pedestrians without helmets get swooped? Cable ties look stupid and magpies can tell the difference between real eyes and fake eyes.
We do know that magpies swoop from behind and have learnt not to attack helmets. They go the side swoop for the ears and even go for your eyes if you turn at the wrong time.
So wearing sunglasses and ear warmers are a pretty good start. Or riding with people who are slower than you gives safety in numbers.
But we had one other idea that we wanted to try. We decided to flip the bird. Check out the video evidence above where Cristian risks his neck then download the template if you want to try it out yourself.
After all, it’s not really the magpie’s fault. Like anyone, they’re just trying to score a few brownie points and the next breeding season is not far away.
Cristian + Marianne