You know the story. The warm air. The blue skies. The blossoming flowers. The sudden WHOOSH of wings flapping millimetres from your head.
Magpies can be a source of anxiety for bike riders. For many, this seasonal threat can be overcome with a grimace and a touch of luck.
For others, the fear of the bird is too great.
For Member for Brindabella Mark Parton, a series of past attacks has led him put his wheels down for the entire swooping season. Here is his nightmare, in his own words:
“Call me a wus if you want, but I choose not to clash with our black and white feathered friends on the roads of Canberra each year. I’ve had a series of dastardly magpie experiences over the years in all parts of Canberra and the surrounding region. I think the worst of them would involve a particularly savage beast who patrolled the Barton Highway just south of Murrumbateman. And then there was that character close to the ANU lakeside. He would chase you into the tunnel, landing on your backpack and pecking the back of your head. I’m done. I like magpies and I don’t wish to fight with them.
“I’m a very keen cyclist, evidenced by the fact that I regularly ride from my home in Theodore to the Legislative Assembly, but I’m just not interested in losing a chunk of my ear, or much worse, being startled by a swoop and ending up under a bus on Drakeford Drive. So, I just agree to disagree and down tools August to December. I know it shows a lack of courage, but I’m happy to wear that.”
Like all native birds, their eggs, young and their nests, magpies are protected by the Nature Conservation Act 2014 and the Animal Welfare Act 1992. It is illegal to interfere with them in any way. For those of you brave enough to continue cycling through the spring, you might like to try these maggie-survival tips:
- Wear glasses to protect your eyes
- If under attack, dismount and wheel away quickly. Your helmet will protect your head.
- Try to keep an eye on the bird while retreating. Magpies are less likely to swoop if you look directly at them.
- If you get swooped, let Access Canberra know on 13 22 81
- Take a different route next time