It's that time of year when Bundaberg Region bike riders and pedestrians anxiously try to avoid swooping magpies.
The magpie swooping season has started earlier than usual, according to TECKnology Indigenous Corp managing director Leslie Lowe.
“Magpie season started at the beginning of June,” he said.
“This is mostly due to climate change, with the warmer weather being of perfect conditions for the mating.”
Les said magpie families were extremely protective of their nests, with even teenage brothers and sisters getting involved in swooping anyone nearby.
“Magpies swoop mainly to protect their young,” he said.
“The juveniles or the teenagers are often the worst for this because they might be helping mum and dad look after the nest and, not really knowing what they are doing, will just go for anything and everything.”
Les said while the swooping experience might be scary for some, there were ways to avoid confrontation with an aggressive magpie.
“Keep an eye out for signage,” he said.
“Bundaberg Regional Council will often put up a warning sign if there are aggressive magpies in the area so people are made aware.”
Bundaberg radio host tests magpie helmet hacks
93.1 Triple M Bundaberg announcer Amber Wheatland knows all too well how scary an aggressive magpie can be.
In 2014 she tested out some magpie helmet hacks and filmed her experience while riding a bike through magpie territory.
The video quickly went viral, gaining more than two million views.
Amber can be heard screaming at the top of her lungs while riding her bike as a magpie attacks from above.
“The eyes don't work, the eyes don't work!” Amber shrieks as a magpie dive bombs at her helmet.
Don't be like Amber
If you are already under attack, TECKnology's Les Lowe said it was important to remain calm and to keep the screaming to a minimum.
“My advice to people would be to keep your head down and try to walk in a group,” he said.
“Magpies tend to go for individuals.
“It's also important to keep calm. Most of the time, especially with younger children, they tend to flail their arms and squeal which a magpie will see as a threat, making them want to attack.”
For those bike riders who are not immune to a swoop or two, Les said most of the tried and tested tricks would, unfortunately, not help out.
“Things like attaching eyes to the back of your helmet, most of the research says no, these tricks don't work,” he said.
“The one thing that has been shown to have positive impact is cable ties on the helmet.
“The magpies seem to stay away or only try to attack the cable rather than the rider.”
Swooping magpies act instinctively
While a swooping magpie may get the best of some people, Les said it's important to not fight back.
“Magpies are one of the smartest birds in the world and have great facial recognition, so if you do something horrible, you can bet they are going to remember you,” he said.
“At the end of the day these birds play an important part in indigenous culture.
“They a are a major insect eater, and without them we would have a really bad bug problem.”
Les said it's also important to be mindful that magpies just follow their natural instinct.
“Breeding season is only for a short period of time each year, so I think the important thing is to leave the magpies alone,” he said.
“We have taken up more and more of their space so they are the ones who have to share what was once their home, with us.
“Just be respectful of mother nature.”