Inventor tests out helmet attachments to find out what REALLY stops magpies swooping you

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An inventor has engineered a series of helmet attachments to test the best ways to stop magpies from swooping. 

Australian Youtuber Alister Laidlaw shared a video to his channel Electrosync this week investigating which 3D printed defence mechanisms are most effective at deterring attacks.  

Using plastic he made twigs, a pair of eyes, cable ties, and a fake magpie, before putting each object to the test at notorious swooping spot. 

Youtuber Alister Laidlaw, based in NSW, tested the best helmet attachments to deter swooping magpies in his latest video (pictured)

Youtuber Alister Laidlaw, based in NSW, tested the best helmet attachments to deter swooping magpies in his latest video (pictured)

‘It’s spring time in Australia, the wattles are flowering and the snakes have just come out. But if there is one thing more Australian than these, it is swooping magpies,’ he says. 

‘The males defend their nests vigorously and can cause injuries from their attacks.’

‘I’ve got a 360 degree camera mounted on my bike, I am going to ride it down the 150m path behind me and count the number of times I get swooped, then we can compare which was most effective.’ 

As a control measure for the experiment, Mr Laidlaw wore only a helmet for the first lap and was swooped six times, with the plastic twigs performing slightly better with one less strike.

The googly eyes fared worse than just a helmet scoring seven swoops, while the most effective measure were the cable ties- which only elicited three. 

The least successful measure was the fake bird, which appeared to aggravate the magpie into swooping a total of nine times.    

He 3D printed twigs, a pair of eyes, cable ties, and a fake magpie (pictured) before cycling through a notorious swooping spot and tallying how many times he was attacked while wearing each item

He 3D printed twigs, a pair of eyes, cable ties, and a fake magpie (pictured) before cycling through a notorious swooping spot and tallying how many times he was attacked while wearing each item

Mr Laidlaw attributed the cable ties’ success to their length.

MAGPIE SWOOP TEST RESULTS

  • Helmet (control) – six swoops
  • Fake sticks (PLAsticks) – five swoops
  • Fake eyes (Pie Eyes) – seven swoops
  • Cable ties (Cable pies)- three swoops
  • Fake Magpie (Madpie 300) – nine swoops
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‘The cable ties seemed to work well in preventing the bird from getting too close, to the point it gave up on me,’ he says.

‘The downside is it makes you look like a tool when there are no magpies around.

‘Madpie 3000 was a massive failure and only made the Swoopy Boi madder.’

Swooping season takes place for about six weeks from the start of spring, as males scare away potential threats in proximity to their nest. 

Magpies have high intelligence and well developed memory, and can differentiate between friends and enemies.

They can swoop up to 100 metres from their nest and will repeatedly swoop familiar faces for their 23-25 year life span.

To prevent attacks, cyclists are encouraged to wear cable ties in their helmet, or to dismount bikes and walk.

For pedestrians, walking away calmly and maintaining eye contact with the animal until outside the nesting zone is the best solution to stop them from swooping. 

The cable ties were the most effective measure, halving the amount of swoops from just wearing a helmet (control) while the fake magpie fared the worst

The cable ties were the most effective measure, halving the amount of swoops from just wearing a helmet (control) while the fake magpie fared the worst

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