News, Culture & Society

A piece of silver tape is the latest item to help cyclists ward off magpies during breeding season

‘I don’t know why we didn’t think of it before’: How a piece of silver tape is helping cyclists ward off magpies during swooping season in Australia

  • Silver tape has been used in a trial to prevent cyclists being attacked by magpies
  • The holographic tape has been rolled out across the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail
  • Paul Heymans came up with idea after he wasn’t attacked while wearing ribbon
  • Somerset Council has offered the tape for free in visitor information centres   
  • Mr Heymans’ hopes the tape will allow birds and cyclists to be together on trail
  • Trial will be evaluated by council at the end of swooping season in November 


Silver tape from the hardware store has become the newest collectors item to help cyclists ward off magpies during the dangerous breeding season in Australia.

Bird deterrent tape, a holographic tape that reflects sunlight to deter birds from gardens and crops, is being given to riders using Queensland’s Brisbane Valley Rail Trail in a new trial to prevent magpie attacks on cyclists.

Paul Heymans, President of the Brisbane Valley Trail Users Association, came up with the idea after he attached ribbons to his helmet for a special event and noticed the birds that would usually swoop didn’t attack him.

Instead, the ribbons on the helmet saw magpies avoid Mr Heymans entirely.

Bird deterrent tape, used to deter birds from gardens and crops, is being given to individuals using Brisbane Valley Rail Trail in a new trial to prevent magpie attacks on cyclists

Paul Heymans, President of the Brisbane Valley Trail Users Association, came up with the idea after he attached ribbons on his helmet and noticed the birds didn’t attack him (pictured: Brisbane Valley Rail Trail)

Paul Heymans, President of the Brisbane Valley Trail Users Association, came up with the idea after he attached ribbons on his helmet and noticed the birds didn’t attack him (pictured: Brisbane Valley Rail Trail)

Mr Heymans told Daily Mail Australia that a Brisbane Valley Rail Trail ranger had suggested they use bird scarer tape after they trialled the ribbon.

‘It worked even better than expected,’ he said. 

Somerset Regional Council has bought around 2000 metres of the bird deterrent tape and has stocked visitor information centres along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail in Fernvale, Esk and Toogoolawah with the item.

The council will ask people to complete a short survey on their trail experience in exchange for the bird deterrent tape, which can be tied like ribbon to bike helmets.

Somerset Economic Development and Tourism Committee representative Councillor Bob Whalley said in a statement the council was happy to provide the holographic tape to people who use the trail during the magpie breeding season, which ends in October.

Somerset Regional Council has bought around 2000 metres of the bird deterrent tape and has stocked visitor information centres in Fernvale, Esk and Toogoolawah with the tape

Somerset Regional Council has bought around 2000 metres of the bird deterrent tape and has stocked visitor information centres in Fernvale, Esk and Toogoolawah with the tape

‘Early trials have indicated that swooping birds are deterred by the tape tied to cyclist helmets and may not swoop as close,’ he said.

‘Regardless, BVRT users must appreciate that during the breeding season, magpies will swoop, and they can be persistent.’

‘Somerset being in a rural area, there are many magpies in their natural environment, and a deterrent provides a practical solution.’

Mr Heymans said while the tape isn’t fully effective, it does work well enough when used with other protective accessories.

‘About 85% of the time, the magpies would veer away at the last second,’ he said.  

‘There are always one or two who are not deterred, but wearing a helmet brim provides good protection from both birds and the sun.’ 

Mr Heymans said there are many vicious magpies along the trail and they have had to be relocated if they are extremely violent towards individuals.

‘There are hundreds of magpies along the 161 km length of the trail. Only a few are aggressive, but they can cause some injuries,’ he said.

Somerset Regional Council is expected to evaluate the effectiveness of the trial in November, but Mayor Graeme Lehmann said council would be happy to offer the tape again next season.  

‘Magpies are a protected species. Bird scarer tape is a cheap and easy solution to discourage them from making contact when swooping,’ Mr Heymans said. 

‘If we can learn to deter the birds without harming them it’s a win/win situation.’

Mr Heymans said there are many vicious magpies along the trail and they have had to be relocated if they are extremely violent towards individuals (stock image)

Mr Heymans said there are many vicious magpies along the trail and they have had to be relocated if they are extremely violent towards individuals (stock image)

Mr Heymans said he hoped the tape would reassure cyclists who are scared of magpies to visit the track and allow magpies and cyclists to co-exist so the birds won’t have to be relocated

Mr Heymans said he hoped the tape would reassure cyclists who are scared of magpies to visit the track and allow magpies and cyclists to co-exist so the birds won’t have to be relocated

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk