Re: birding-aus Magpies and eyes!

Subject: Re: birding-aus Magpies and eyes!
From: Ray Cotsell <>
Date: Tue, 06 Jul 1999 03:52:03 PDT

I am a rare-only bicyclist, but I can add one experience that might be suggestive. As an occasional historian, I have had occasion to spend the odd hour or two in cemeteries. It was during one of these expotitions a couple of years ago, to the Old Cemetery at Ballarat, that I was dive-bombed by an un-expected 'pie (it was a bit early in the season).

Taken off-guard, I did the thing I usually do when threatened by a beastie; after the second fly-by, I watched it till it perched on a headstone a few yards away, and then turned to face it fully and eye-balled it for a good few seconds. (I think the mood was not 'I am threatening' so much as "I will not be threatened by you".)

I then turned and walked off, carefully listening until I heard the wings, when again I turned to face it full on. The magpie's response each time I did this was to abort the attack, veer to one side, and settle on a headstone. It did not take very long to be out of whatever the sensitive range was.

The only alternative to this was to walk backwards (just as hazardous in a graveyard as on a suburban footpath - think about it!).

Now, I am not suggesting that a cyclist, even if she/he anticipates an attack, can stop every few yards to eyeball a magpie (though the strategy might work for pedestrians - so long as you are game to give as good as you get in glares). It does make me wonder, though, whether there might be a line of investigation suggested here.

Might one, e.g., paint eyes on the top/back of one's helmet?

Ray Cotsell

BTW, is the variety of magpie to which Martin refers G.t.collingwoodii, or was I just imagining it?

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