Magpie attacks prompt sunglasses call for Aus cyclists

Mon, Sep 18
An Australian magpie.

A Melbourne cyclist who almost lost an eye after being swooped by a magpie is encouraging other riders to wear sunglasses this season.

Sunbury man Christiaan Nyssen was riding his bike at Yarrawonga near the Victorian-NSW border in November 2021 when he was struck by a magpie.

He usually wears sunglasses on his rides but not on this occasion.

"I have been attacked countless times and don't have a fear of the birds," he said in a statement on Monday.

"This bird turned around and went straight for the eye, did a backflip and hit me right in the eye again. A neighbour said I was the fifth person to be attacked."

Nyssen was left unable to see out of the eye from iris trauma with pupil dilation.

After being advised to wait a few months, he sought a second opinion and underwent surgery to repair the retina and remove the entire lens at Epworth Freemasons.

Nyssen described it as a one in a million attack but believes it would have been prevented by sunglasses.

"The magpie wouldn't have had something to aim at," he said.

With swooping season in full swing, the rider was attacked by another magpie last week, suffering a minor ear injury.

Breeding season runs from about August to October, with magpies defending their nesting young six to eight weeks after hatching.

Other swooping prevention tactics include changing route, walking instead of running away, wearing sunglasses on the back of your head or a hat with a pair of eyes drawn on the back.

An elderly cyclist died of head injuries in September 2022 when he veered from an off-road path in Wollongong after being startled by a swooping magpie.


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