Friday, September 26, 2008

To Kill a Magpie

Spring is in the air and the local birds are actively chasing each other, displaying their mating rituals, and defending their nests. Despite loving all of the birds here, I am now terrified of the Australian magpie. A magpie is a very large bird that looks a bit like a crow with black and white feathers. Last month, Scott told me about a certain magpie that dive-bombs him every morning on his bike ride to work. Scott put a pair of glasses on the back of his helmet (pictured here) but found it wasn't enough to keep the bird off his helmet. It was hard for me to appreciate what this was like until it happened to me. My first time, my sunglasses flew off my face from the sudden impact. A week later, I had decided to avoid Magpie Lane by biking down a parallel street. Much to my dismay, another roosting magpie went after me. I definitely wasn't expecting it. When she hit my helmet, I let out a loud scream, while my sunglasses went flying off my head again. This time they landed in the storm drain -- of all places!!!! I stopped to see if I could get my glasses out of the storm drain but was quickly run off by the whoosh-whoosh sounds above my head. A little girl was watching this all transpire while she was waiting for her school bus. The locals have informed us that the magpies will continue this behavior until December when they are done making babies. Scott figured out that he can keep the magpies from actually bonking his helmet by raising his hand above his head. I wonder if the people in the neighborhood know what he's doing as he rides down the street saluting to the magpies. Since losing my sunglasses in the storm drain, I have decided to turn around before reaching Magpie Lane. I'm willing to sacrifice 1 mile of bike exercise to avoid the magpies. Along with asking Scott about his day at work, I also usually greet him after work by asking, "Did you get magpied today?"

UPDATE: A few days after this posting, a friend of ours sent us a link to the Sydney Cyclist forum titled "Magpie Season". Our magpie was listed (Ryrie Street) with a viciousness rating of 3 out of 10. I seriously can't imagine what 5 out of 10 or even 10 out of 10 would be like! These birds are crazy. The author of the posting at the link above says, "What's to stop the bastards from taking your ears off? In years past we have been left bloodied, but unbowed... We haven't dared to go back recently to see if s/he or his/her offspring are still patrolling." This forum also has a picture of a more creative measure to deter the blood letting (pictured on the left).

1 comment:

Danno said...

That is a great story!