Aggressive magpies wreaking havoc

Aggressive magpies begin seasonal attack

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 14:05 26/11/2013
Magpie swoops on cyclist
Barry Harcourt
TARGET: Racing cyclist Wally Kopae gets attacked by an angry magpie. The birds frequently attack cyclists at this time of year.

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Christchurch outdoor enthusiasts beware - magpie season is upon us.

The seasonal issue of the swooping birds has reared its head again with a community message board on Trade Me aflutter with people's concerns. 

One post calls for the Christchurch City Council (CCC) to ''eradicate these vile beasts'', who ''wantonly attack people who don't even mean them any harm''. 

''There is one near the summit of the Hilltop on Banks Peninsula that keeps attacking cyclists, walkers [and] even cars. A boy in Australia was permanently blinded in one eye by an attack,'' it said.

But other messages express more sympathy for the black and white birds.

One says: ''You need to learn to live with them. Face it, they're here to stay. You can't kill everything that upsets you. Magpie troubles are seasonal, keep out of their territory for a few weeks of each year.''

CCC manager parks operations Ross Campbell said the council was responsible for managing nuisance magpies on council-owned land. 

''We are able to investigate and take action if appropriate, depending on what and where the problem is. This may include signage warning and advising people, or if warranted, removing problem birds, usually by trapping and relocating,'' he said.

''This is a seasonal problem as during breeding season magpies can be aggressive and dive bomb people that they perceive to be a threat to their young. The council is not responsible for magpies on private land.''

Swooping magpies caused the Responsible Cyclists Association of New Zealand (RCA) to issue a ''spring riding warning'' to members on its website one year.

A member said they had been ''repeatedly attacked'' during solo rides in Rotorua, by three birds at once in one instance.

The cyclist said they developed a phobia of ''the sky orca'', and set-out to bolster their mental well-being by learning about the issue.

''You will be amazed at how aggressive these birds are. They swoop to ward off perceived threats to their nests. They will defend their young with little regard to their own safety."

Another more recent post on the ''Christchurch quake'' message board on Trade Me said posties in Ashburton were being ''attacked on a daily basis''. 

New Zealand Post told One News last week that "two or three really aggressive birds" were wreaking havoc there.

They were diving-bombing and pecking posties' cheeks, necks and ears and forcing them from their bikes.

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Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said there had been about 15 magpie-related injury claims lodged with ACC in the last two years.

Have you been attacked by a magpie lately? Email anna.pearson@press.co.nz

AVOIDANCE TIPS

Do not wave your arm or shout - it makes magpies more aggressive

Do not duck - this will expose the back of your neck

Put cable ties on your bike helmet with the long ends sticking up - they will hit the ties if they attack

Put two black dots on the back or top of your bike helmet - they look like eyes, and deter magpies

Source: The Responsible Cyclists Association (RCA)

- The Press

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