Take the 2-minute tour ×
Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have been having some problems being attacked by several red-winged blackbirds when I am riding. It seems to be the same birds because I am only having this problem in certain areas. I have talked to some other people who ride in the same areas but they don't seem to have this problem. I am not sure if it the color of by bike (red and black), or my helmet (silver, but not shiny), or my clothes (black shorts, gray shirt). I have tried changing my route and it seemed to work for a couple of days, but my new route has the same problem.

Does anyone have any suggestions on why they may be swooping down or how to avoid it?

share|improve this question
2  
Da boids! Da boids! I have been chased by a dog, (Lab who wanted to play). get a scarecrow to mount on top of your helmet? –  geoffc Jun 21 '12 at 13:44
8  
+1 for most bizarre cycling-related question ever. –  Stephen Touset Jun 21 '12 at 15:33
2  
Thank God they are not impalas! –  heltonbiker Jun 21 '12 at 16:44
2  
This is not unusual at all! Swooping is a major concern all through spring in Australia. I've had a chunk taken out of my ear and have seen many near crashes. Nothing gets your heart going like the distinctive whoosh followed by the clacking into your helmet. –  Mac Jun 22 '12 at 0:58
1  
I have an injury from a bird (Australian Magpie) attack - torn perifomuous (Butt check)... 6 years ago and still not right. It's not as funny as it sounds...... –  mattnz Jun 23 '12 at 4:37
show 2 more comments

3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

This happens during nesting season. These birds get aggressive and try to protect their territory near the nest. They should stop this behavior when nesting season is over.

One main suggestion I've seen seem to be to look them in the eyes. Also, you might try to put wire ties or ribbons in your helmet facing up and back to deter the attacks.

However, this seems to be an issue with Australian magpies as well, they are much larger and can cause crashes and more serious injury.

Some Related Links:
Avoid Magpie Attacks: http://www.wikihow.com/Keep-Safe-from-Swooping-Australian-Magpies

Chicago Residents attacked by blackbirds: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/so-not-an-expert/2010/06/to-kill-a-red-winged-blackbird-is-that-a-sin.html

Magpie attacks: http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-486920.html

share|improve this answer
2  
Oh god no, not the magpies........ Arrrrgggghhhhh!!!! Get me the holy hand grenade of Antioch! –  geoffc Jun 21 '12 at 19:54
1  
There's a really interesting video that I can't find. Someone at an Australia university did some tests and found that not wearing a helmet was the second most effective strategy - adding cable ties did nothing. Best of all was not riding in the magpie zone. My experience is that velomobiles also fail to set them off. –  Kohi Jun 22 '12 at 0:37
    
I've had good experiences with drawing fake eyes on an ice cream tub (although it's hard to measure how often you're not attacked by the birds). Haven't found a way to do this on a helmet yet though. –  Mac Jun 22 '12 at 0:59
    
People who research terns and other sea birds wear helmets with bits of sock tied to the top so that the birds are satisfied with just mauling the fabric bits. –  WTHarper Jul 1 '12 at 16:01
    
You can flip them the bird. It doesn't really work that well, but it might make you feel better. urbanvelo.org/angry-bird-vs-cyclist –  Benzo Sep 17 '12 at 0:30
show 1 more comment

I have the same problem as a pedestrian. They inhabit a tiny portion of my route (trees near a cycle path near water): I just slow down a bit there as I arrive, and move on quickly as I leave, and I always wear eye protection.

I guess that the cause is territorial behaviour, defending a nest: so don't take it personally, and I don't think it's anything to do with the colours you wear.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Red-winged blackbirds are particularly spurned by the color red. (Self loathing?) If you change everything except your red bike I'm afraid they'll always treat you as an avenging marauder. So sorry.

The birds will make contact on occassion. Besides the good advice to always wear a helmet for safety it will also protect your head from the exceptionally brave dive-bombing bird.

Honestly, I get a kick out of seeing their shadows flutter above the shadow of my profile while riding but I suppose it takes an amount of tolerance to get used to it. I'm not a big fan of getting dive-bombed but as a trade-off I've never been bird pooped on...

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.