Every year from late August to late October swooping season begins, forcing pedestrians and cyclists to run a black-and-white gauntlet past nesting neighbourhood magpies.
While they may have a charming warble and cheeky demeanour, magpies can also be highly territorial. If you’re plagued by attacks from above, the website Magpie Alert could be your saviour.
The site lets users report aggressive magpies in their neighbourhoods. At the time of publication 2136 attacks had been reported, as well as 278 injuries.
Reported attacks are plotted out on a map to help you avoid problem areas. Statistics on the site show Queensland has the most reported cases of swooping attacks followed by New South Wales and Victoria.
Elsewhere you’ll find tutorials on adding cable ties to your bike helmet as a swooping deterrent.
The site also features stories submitted by users. In one, a father describes using custom ice-cream container bike helmet spikes to protect his kids from black-and-white marauders.
“These spikes are very sharp and if the maggie were to impact at speed it will be impailed [sic], especially on the double plastic pieces,” says user ManVsMagpie. “There is one super evil maggie at Chermside I am yet to try this out [on], but I feel confident.”
Another story describes the “Battle of Bulcock” in which a local postman in Caloundra, Queensland, faces a twice-daily battle with magpies on his delivery route.
“Others who dare to make the trip along the same stretch of road are mysteriously immune,” says user Jaime Buchanan. “The battle is his ... and his alone!”
Less adversarial tips are included in the “Safety” section. One tip suggests feeding the birds raw mince, thin slices of steak and even cat food.
The site does not encourage harming magpies, which are protected by law. Instead, it’s a helpful tool to avoid a feather-induced headache.
For more magpie avoidance tips, check out Broadsheet’s guide to staying safe this swooping season.
If you know of a high-occurrence swooping area in your suburb you can report it to local council, or the National Parks and Wildlife Service on 1300 072 757.