So, I’ve been riding my bike about 20km to work along bike paths for a while now.
This spring, (their) mating season, the birds over a particular section of bikepath have been particularly aggressive, attacking me each time I ride through their hood.
This is what a wiki page says about aggressive birds swooping bicycles:
“Australian magpies are notorious for a habit that can cause injury and distress to humans – swooping. This nasty little habit, done to protect the bird’s territory when it feels its nest is threatened during nesting season, can result in skin injuries, eye injuries and sometimes chunks of flesh being removed through contact with claws or beak…
Take evasive action. If you find yourself walking or cycling through magpie swooping territory and it is simply too late to back out, take evasive measures to protect yourself:
- Keep calm. This is the most important thing – do not yell, flap your arms about and run off screaming. This is a panicked reaction and is the worst thing that you can do. Unfortunately, it is something children often do, so train them early to keep calm.
- Walk quickly but do not run. Be careful, keep your eyes out for magpies and if you are really concerned, place your folded arms above your head to protect your head and eye area.
- Try to keep your eye on the magpie. Magpies usually swoop from behind and it is known that magpies are much less likely to swoop if they are being watched directly. This means the magpie must be able to see your eyes looking towards him. As you walk away, try to maintain this eye contact. You can also try walking backwards but only if the path is clear or you may injure yourself by tripping over something.
- If you are on your bicycle or horse, dismount. Bicycles irritate magpies the most and this includes the local postie delivering the mail. The major cause of accidents following a magpie swoop is from a bicycle. Your helmet will protect you and you will not be distracted while riding by a bird swooping in your face. Walk the bike quickly out of the vicinity of the magpie.
Each time I’d ride a stretch of around 75m, I would get pecked & clawed at least 10x over that distance.
Some very nice flying, on the birds’ part.
Overall it wasn’t too scary for me, with helmet and bike glasses on.
However, once the birdies worked out gouging my eyes and piercing my helmet wasn’t going to work, they set to work on my bare forearms, drawing blood with tooth & claw on several occasions.
I was upset by this. Or at least scared of the infections these komodo dragons carry .
Shouts, waving bike pumps around, gloves etc worked a bit. But it was like chasing flies away while standng next to an open sewer on a hot day.
Then, the solution.
A cheap plastic supermarket bag, twixt thumb and forefinger, allowed to dangle and billow across each forearm as I ride the gauntlet.
It works! Dumb birds. I can hear them squawking overhead, but they won’t come closer than about 8m.
Hah! Triumph of Man over Nature.
I have tamed the beasts of the earth, and reclaimed what God hath made mine!