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Magpie season arrives early as cyclist is attacked

An early start to swooping season has seen bicyclists and pedestrians dodging unrelenting magpies on a daily basis.

Melbourne cyclist Matt Stacy was repeatedly hit in the head by a magpie while enjoying his morning ride in Sunbury on Sunday.

In a video of the attack posted to his Instagram, the 49-year-old remains calm as the irritated bird smashes into his helmet, aggressively protecting its nest.

‘I have been swooped 13 times in a row with in the space of 150 meters so they can be very persistent,’ Mr Stacy wrote.

‘The tapping you can hear is it kissing my helmet with its beak.’

 

Melbourne cyclist Matt Stacy was repeatedly hit in the head by a magpie while enjoying his morning ride on Sunday, leading many to believe swooping season has arrived early (pictured) 

n a video of the attack posted to his Instagram, the 49-year-old remains calm as the irritated bird smashes into his helmet, aggressively protecting its nest (pictured)

n a video of the attack posted to his Instagram, the 49-year-old remains calm as the irritated bird smashes into his helmet, aggressively protecting its nest (pictured)

This year alone, 595 magpie attacks and 90 injuries have been reported

Though swooping season usually runs from September to November, attacks have been prevalent from early August, with 595 attacks and 90 injuries registered with Magpie Alert this year alone.

The number has risen substantially from just 288 attacks and 48 injuries last week.

Mr Stacy said although he was initially ‘terrified’ of magpies, he has now embraced them and even has an ‘old favourite.’

‘I know where they’ll be and the spots to avoid — but every so often I’ll try and catch one of them in the act,’ he told The Herald Sun.

In a picture on social media, Mr Stacy captured ‘old favourite’ swooping him once again.

‘Some days I almost feel sorry for it, with me riding past several times looking for the perfect photo. Thank god for my Giant helmet and Oakley sunnies to protect me from its sharp beak and talons.’

In NSW, Randwick Council and the nearby Bayside Council have both installed signs near the nesting areas of aggressive magpies, following reports of early attacks. 

Numerous victims around Sydney who have shared information about their attacks online report ‘relentless’ birds who make contact with their heads using their claws or beaks.

Mr Stacy said although he was initially 'terrified' of magpies, he has now embraced them and even has an 'old favourite' (pictured)

Mr Stacy said although he was initially ‘terrified’ of magpies, he has now embraced them and even has an ‘old favourite’ (pictured)

‘I have been swooped 13 times in a row with in the space of 150 meters so they can be very persistent,’ Mr Stacy wrote (pictured)

In response, a number of Sydney councils have erected signage near particularly aggressive magpie nests

In response, a number of Sydney councils have erected signage near particularly aggressive magpie nests

While magpie swooping is quite common in the warmer months in Australia, residents are forbidden from fighting back, as magpies are a protected species

While magpie swooping is quite common in the warmer months in Australia, residents are forbidden from fighting back, as magpies are a protected species

A mother-of-one told News Corp she was walking with her son Marcus in Maroubra on August 12 when she was attacked. 

Emily Boulton-Smith said she had been pushing her 15-month-old son in an uncovered pram when she was swooped three times by an aggressive magpie, who left a cut on her head.  

‘I basically grabbed a tissue out of the back of the pram and put it to my head, I had blood running down my arm. It was enough for me to get it cleaned up,’ she said.

‘I was pretty shaken up by it and a little bit shocked… if it had swooped and hit my son, I would have been hysterical. 

‘I did not have the cover up on the pram- it could have done him quite a lot of damage.’

As magpies are native to Australia, those affected by the swooping are not able to take any action which may harm the birds or disturb their nests.

Instead, councils are advising residents to simply take another path or to wear a helmet or hat as protection.

Instead, residents have been advised to take a different route to their destination or wear a helmet to protect them from the bird's sharp claws and beak

Instead, residents have been advised to take a different route to their destination or wear a helmet to protect them from the bird’s sharp claws and beak

Randwick Council placed signs at Arthur Burn Reserve, where territorial magpies have built nests in the past

Randwick Council placed signs at Arthur Burn Reserve, where territorial magpies have built nests in the past

One woman in Maroubra was struck in the back of the head by a vicious magpie this month, which caused her to bleed from her head

One woman in Maroubra was struck in the back of the head by a vicious magpie this month, which caused her to bleed from her head

Randwick Council Mayor Noel D’Souza says avoiding the magpies or using an open umbrella for protection instead of fighting back against the birds could result in a decrease in aggressive behaviour. 

‘We need to remember these are mother birds wanting to protect their chicks in the nest,’ he said.

‘So the best things we can do for them is to take a different walking or cycling route if we know there is a swooping magpie in the area. This may not always be convenient though, so the other options are to use an open umbrella, helmet or hat as protection.

‘Definitely don’t throw sticks or rocks at the bird or nest and try to refrain from waving your arms about as this may increase aggressive behaviours and prompt more swooping.

‘If we change how we respond to these magpies by avoiding problem areas for a few weeks and not giving nesting birds cause to become territorial, we may see a reduction in swooping behaviours.’

Noel D'Souza, Mayor for Randwick Council, says avoiding nesting magpies may help reduce aggressive behaviour

Noel D’Souza, Mayor for Randwick Council, says avoiding nesting magpies may help reduce aggressive behaviour

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