At this time of year it is not safe to ride without at least one WMD – or ‘Weapon of Magpie Distraction’ for the uninitiated. I find magpies particularly distracting while I’m riding, so I’d really like to return the favour by making a few of them feel really distracted. On many days lately when I have been distracted by magpies I have felt very very strongly that my magpie distractor of choice would be a bazooka. A bazooka is probably not the ideal choice however – and I haven’t used one so far – for at least the following reasons:

  • While the actual blast can be quite distracting – particularly if well targeted – a bazooka may take a while to reload. I read somewhere that a recent survey showed that at least 98% of magpies don’t actually know what a bazooka looks like. This probably means that during the reload time a magpie is not likely to be distracted by the mere presence of a bazooka.
  • There is also a good chance that the recoil from the bazooka blast will knock your bike over. This is probably more distracting for you than it is for the magpie, unless of course you are being closely followed by an inattentive car or truck driver (who may have been distracted by the magpie.) In that case the subsequent sirens and flashing lights and traffic chaos might be quite distracting for the magpie.

I have heard of at least one case of a tennis racket being used as a very effective WMD. I usually don’t have a tennis racket with me when I am riding so I haven’t tried that distraction yet. On a couple of occasions I have picked up a small tree from the roadside and carried that with me for the rest of my ride. That kind of works, but for me it has never had theĀ  impact I imagine a tennis racket would, and small trees don’t make good riding companions.

So lately I’ve settled on the less satisfying but mostly effective distractor of looking just plain silly.

There are of course many many ways of looking silly. If some other nameless cyclist had not come to my rescue I may have had many years of trial and error ahead of me in the search for exactly the right kind of silliness to effectively distract magpies. Fortunately there are many other cyclists doing their best to look silly (that is why lycra bike pants were invented after all) and somewhere along the line some one of them decided to look silly by wearing a hedgehog on his head. Lo and behold he discovered – by chance – that this was an effective magpie distractor. Of course we don’t have hedgehogs in Australia – and the echidna is a protected species – so I’ve had to make do by adding spiky bits to my helmet. So far it seems to be working. There is one magpie about 1km down the road from our place who likes to swoop at least a dozen times each time I ride by him, and I’d say he definitely looks distracted every single time he swoops.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 11, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I like the idea of a bazooka taking out a magpie! Albeit with the subsequent collapse of your bike.

    Good read.

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