Swooping Season: How to Avoid Magpie Attacks While Cycling
Spring has sprung.
Cycling season has begun, and with it comes one of the scariest things you could imagine—magpie swooping season. These birds are vicious when protecting their nests, dive-bombing anyone who threatens to come near them. But there are some things you can do to avoid these attacks, so that cycling season doesn’t have to be so scary!
What is swooping season?
Swooping season is the time of year when magpies are most active and aggressive. The birds are protecting their nests and young, and will swoop down on anyone they perceive as a threat. Cyclists are especially vulnerable, as they're often moving quickly and can't see the birds coming. There are a few things you can do to avoid being attacked, though.
What happens when a bird swoops?
When a magpie swoops, it generally does so from behind and dives down towards the back of the head. This can startle cyclists and cause them to lose control. The best way to avoid being attacked is to show these birds and our wildlife the respect they deserve. Know the swooping areas, give these birds space and take a detour—at least until they get their young out of the nest. This is not always possible so be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for birds perched on power lines or in trees. If you see a bird up ahead, be prepared to duck or swerve if it attacks.
Why do birds swoop people?
Birds swoop people for a variety of reasons. One reason is that the bird is protecting its young. Another reason is that the bird may be defending its territory. The bird may also be trying to get food from the person. Whatever the reason, it's important to be aware of birds when you're out and about, especially during nesting season. Only a small number of birds are known to swoop down on people and they typically target only a few individuals they recognise or prefer like cyclists. A magpie only defends its nest within a defence zone. For cyclists, this is usually an area that is about 150 metres.
What can we do to avoid attacks.
If you know where a nesting bird is swooping, consider taking a different routeSolo cyclists are generally only attacked so ride in a tight bunch (not always practical since there is always going to be some riding when you're on your own)
Protect your eyes with sunglasses
To avoid traffic or a fall, you may choose to dismount. Once you dismount, you should look directly at the bird; magpies and other birds will not attack when you are watching them
If you are attacked, try to keep your cool and cover your head and face with your arms until you can safely get away.
Do not retaliate against the bird as this will only make the situation worse.
Share the information about dangerous places for cyclists with your fellow cyclists via social media, forums and websites. Here's a good website to learn about magpie attacks: www.magpiealert.com You can also post it on Facebook for your local cycling group and share it with other people you communicate with.
Share your experiences of magpie attacks while riding your bike via the comments or on the Birds on Bikes Facebook page.