Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Birds behaving badly

The only sign that it is really only Spring despite the insanely warm temperatures is bird behaviour. "Bad" bird behaviour, even if they are only doing what comes naturally. In Australia there are a couple of bird species which get rather protective during their spring nesting time. They take their job of protecting their eggs, and then their bubs, very seriously, and it's the one part of Spring that you tend to dread.

Magpies are the worst - and they particularly don't like bikes, although they also go for walkers. Marc and I were swooped on the tandem just as we reached our seaside village destination on our ride last Thursday. Freak out! You suddenly hear that swoosh, swoosh of wings, and you realise you're being dive bombed by a manic bird. The fact that you're wearing a bike helmet doesn't really make you feel any better about it. While they might not draw blood if they make contact, you don't really want a chunk taken out of your helmet, and you don't really know just how good their aim is. We must have been a sight - me on the back of the tandem, swivelled round trying to both stare at the magpie (because some reckon that if you're looking at it it won't attack) and fend it off with one waving hand, while Marc was trying to control the bike. They swoop again and again until you manage to get far enough from their territory for their liking. Some of the official advice suggests you get off your bike and walk (so you don't have an accident I guess), but I'm more an advocate of 'get the hell away from there as quick as possible'.

There is an area the girls know to avoid a couple of streets away from us, so they try to remember to take an alternative route to their friends' place.

As if the maggies weren't enough, this year a couple of plovers (aka "masked lapwings") have taken over the park area between the houses and the beach, so for now you have to take a bit of detour to get to the beach. We haven't been swooped by them yet - some kids warned us as we headed to the beach yesterday afternoon, and we could see them patrolling, so decided not to stir them up. It is quite amusing that a pair of birds can change the behaviour of so many humans.

I don't like the heat, but I'm just a bit 'bring on summer and the end of the swooping season...'


We have magpies in our back yard that are just so nice - never swoop us (just Eddie the cat) as they have never had anything happen to them in that area I suppose.

Out on the foreshore and the bike path to school you are constantly in peril, however.

There is a nest of plovers at the front gate to the school, so they have merry hell with 200 kids a day!!
Malevolent beasts :( I nearly got swooped the other day, but I can't be too sure it just mistimed its landing nearby, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt
Heh heh, I love the site of people getting swooped in early Spring, LOVE IT! I've had one slam into my bike helmet once, one of the classic old stack hats that you occasionally see around, I think it managed to pick itself up off the ground and flap flop away.
Honestly, just ignore 'em, they almost never hit you. Of course that's easier said than done with those fierce little buggers swooping around your noggin'.
Around here they put up plastic owls to try and keep pigeons away. I had a flash of you and Marc with one each glued on your helments.

Might change your wind dynamics.
Ah the famous magpie swoop! Lol! Personally, I love maggies and my dad has always said that if you feed them they will never attack you (ok, I know that you aren't supposed to feed native birds but a swooper should always be fed! Lol!). I watched a postie in Toowoomba being swooped by the most vicious magpie last week...it went for her about 5 times!

And yes, the nasty plover. I think that they are more vicious (and don't have a lovely warble to lull you into forgiveness!) I was attacked by one of them in a Kmart car park when I was 9 months pregnant once. You can imagine it, huh? Fat woman running across car park being chased by swooping bird! Scary!
Hey Trace - was thinking of you today while mowing my lawn with my lovely magpies waiting for me to turn up some goodies for them - how are your legs? I hope the ride went well.
Riley was swooped 3 times yesterday!! Three pecks out of his head! Blood! Trauma! I am very cross!

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