It’s the distinctive sound of their wings flapping in the breeze that forces my heart to leap into my throat and my pace to speed up. Sure, I could act like everyone else and ignore the buggers – “Just keep walking,” my mum would say – but every fibre of my being tells me to run, to push my legs harder than I’ve ever pushed before until I’m no longer in their line of vision.
Unfortunately, feet pounding quickly against the pavement usually tempts them more and suddenly my head becomes a target.
I have a confession to make – I am a magpie target.
“But it’s not magpie season,” I hear you mutter to yourself.
No, technically it is no longer magpie season – they tend to be more active during spring – but I have proof that it doesn’t necessarily matter what time of year it is, sometimes they just want to strike.
My proof, you ask? Just last week I was swooped walking into my own driveway.
I screamed and sprinted to my car before slamming the door shut and curling into the foetal position on the front seat. It took me a whole 10 minutes to realise it couldn’t get to me through the thick sheets of metal in my Peugeot.
As a victim of their vicious pecks – I have a small dent in my head to vouch for this – and countless swoops, I feel it is my duty to warn the people of South Australia that they are always planning to attack. We must be vigilant.
So, here’s five ways to avoid magpie attacks.
1. Always Wear Sunglasses.
They say a magpie is less likely to attack if it feels it is being watched. Chuck your sunnies on the back of your head so it seems like you’re looking from the front and the back of your head. Maybe consider a pair at the front as well, that way if it does strike, your eyes won’t be fatalities.
2. Wear Protective Head Gear.
Be it a wide-brimmed hat, a helmet or the good ol’ Golden North ice cream bucket, something atop your noggin is better than nothing. As magpies typically attack from behind, they say you should draw eyes on the back or wear your sunglasses on it back to front (refer to above). Personally, I would suggest buying those little plastic craft eyes from Spotlight and sticking them on every single angle of the bloody thing so you’re covered no matter what side it sees you.
3. Invest in Coloured Cable Ties.
I kid you not, this worked for me. Whether you’re riding your bike or are happy to look like an idiot walking down the street (I was the latter), tying colourful cable or zip ties to your helmet causes a distracting display so the birds are less likely to swoop.
4. Carry an Umbrella or Stick at All Times.
If a magpie attacks you, it’ll more than likely go for the highest point, so hold that umbrella or stick high! But whatever you do, do not wave them around, as this provokes them. On the bright side, carrying an umbrella also keeps you weather-prepared come rain or sunshine.
5. Take the Road Less Travelled.
Research by Griffith University has shown that Aussie magpies have long-term memories and recognise people by facial features. I don’t know about you, but this scares the absolute crap out of me. If there’s one pesky bird that chooses to constantly swipe left and right at your melon, it’s best to find an alternate route to your destination, no matter how much longer it’ll take. Take it from the girl who walked all the way around the Uni SA’s Magill campus to avoid a single maggie every day: the extra exercise is a hell of a lot better than blood dripping from your scalp.