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?

  • 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, 2012 at 13:44
  • 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, 2012 at 0:58
  • Stop stealing their eggs? Jun 22, 2012 at 16:53
  • 2
    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, 2012 at 4:37
  • I am getting dive-bombed by a hawk. It's always in the same area and it kind of sucks to hear that "close-whizzing sound" over your head. I think it's the last sound unfortunate field mice hear. I have been attacked by a Canadian goose before too. On every occaision I have been wearing a white shirt. Going to lose the white shirt!!!!
    – user4434
    Jul 1, 2012 at 14:48

3 Answers 3


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

  • 2
    Oh god no, not the magpies........ Arrrrgggghhhhh!!!! Get me the holy hand grenade of Antioch!
    – geoffc
    Jun 21, 2012 at 19:54
  • 2
    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, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 0:30

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.


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...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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