Why oh why?
Every year at about this time in Australia, Spring time, there are numerous stories in the media about the spate of magpies swooping on unsuspecting walkers, bike riders, runners – anyone they take exception to being in their territory as they protect their babies in the nest. They can do real damage by pecking people, drawing blood and causing people to fall off their bikes as well as scaring normal people like me so that I won’t ride my bike anywhere I know a magpie is nesting, (ever again).
I can understand their motives and I applaud the care they give their young ones. I am a parent myself so I know a good parent when I see one.
They just don’t like me!
Unfortunately magpies don’t like me. At all! Everywhere I go the magpies seem to have passed on information via their telegraphic system, that I am a person of ill-repute or at the very least someone who needs to be watched and swooped at all times. I can be in a group of people walking along, minding my own business, and I will be the one who gets swooped every time! It was a running joke at work, I was the only one who would be swooped walking into work each day, regardless of how many others did the same walk. We thought it might have been related to hair colour so I changed to a different colour….
I was in the Clare Valley in South Australia recently, riding my bike thinking pleasant thoughts when out of the blue a magpie repeatedly swooped me. Luckily I managed to stay on my bike all the while screaming my head off. When my husband came by a few minutes later he wondered what all the fuss was about as he hadn’t been swooped. He also stated that I reacted a tad dramatically! Really????
Signs of the times:
I’m now visiting my mother up north and there are warning signs all over the place, such as this one, telling people to be careful. I appreciated the sign, read it and promptly turned around and retraced my steps, telling my walking partners that there was no way we were going any further down that path!
In response to a Facebook post bemoaning the fact that I was destined to be maligned by every magpie the world over, (I’m not being dramatic, just stating a fact), my sister told me to ‘make friends’ with them. Apparently a study has been released that says just that.
But a magpie “will only swoop when he doesn’t know somebody”
Dr Kaplan said that once a magpie knew you and judged you to be a nice person, you would have earned a friend for life.
“They will form very long friendships, like dogs,” she said….
On the other hand, if you are mean to a magpie it will bear a grudge for a long time.
I can assure you I have never been mean to a magpie, except in my head, so I can’t understand how they can bear a grudge against me like they do! Feeding them is not encouraged either apparently, as if that was ever on my to-do list 🙂
In years gone by I have walked with a bucket on my head, held a big stick aloft and turned myself inside out looking for them as they came up behind me. Others have put cable-tie spikes on their bike helmets, used an umbrella, put fake eyes on the back of their head trying to fool the birds they are being looked at. I can assure you screaming and running away doesn’t help the situation.
Fast forward to the weekend, when my mother and I, together with some friends went out for afternoon tea at a local cafe, The Rattler, which is made up of old train carriages (in case you were wondering).
Lo and behold this ‘friendly’ magpie swooped down to the table next to us and started having afternoon tea with the leftovers from the previous customers. He didn’t even look at me he was so intent on getting into the delicious cream. I was amazed!
He loved that dish of cream, dipping his beak in and savouring the taste over and over again. It really looked like he was having afternoon tea with all his friends and he was very happy with the situation until my mother decided it wasn’t a good idea for him to eat so much cream and took it away. We told her she was a bit of a spoilsport!
But maybe she’s done me a huge favour! Maybe she’s now broken my curse and magpies will rain down on her instead, as the word gets out amongst the magpie community, leaving me to walk and ride in peace forever more! I hope for her sake I’m wrong but I’ll let you know next Springtime!
In case you were wondering the best advice I can offer is the same as in the article referred to earlier….And if you haven’t yet had time to make a magpie’s acquaintance, you can avoid being attacked this spring by keeping your distance from nesting areas and not running if you are swooped.
I must stop running away, maybe that’s where I’ve gone wrong all these years!
Have you had anything similar happen to you? I’d love to know I’m not alone.
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