Why do magpies hate me?


Why oh why?

Magpie pin

Pin me!

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.

But…

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:

Magpie sign during springtime in Australia

Magpie sign

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!

Magpie enjoying his afternoon tea, rather than swooping me in spring time

Magpie enjoying his afternoon tea

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!

Magpie, spring, swooping

Magpie eating cream

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.

Debbie 🙂

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  One thought on “Why do magpies hate me?

  1. September 18, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    So you don’t ride with cable ties in your helmet?!? A myna swooped Gidget on the weekend. She’s so low to the ground and still it came down and nipped her ear. She was shocked. It was so fast. She was just sniffing a post, no birds or babies near her. Crazy things.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. September 18, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    We have lots of Maggpies and Crows here in southern England,plus Jays and Kites and Hawks and Buzzards. So far I have been lucky not to have been attacked or swooped by any and honestly I had no idea they acted like this. We have trouble with Gulls especially on the coast. They swoop down and steel food and ice-cream from your hands. I lived in Devon when my eldest was new born and remember the gulls attacking my cat.. she was unscathed but it was scary. I suggest you be wary and don’t star in any Hitchcock films.! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your story of swooping birds. I’m starting to get a bit of a complex about birds in general so no Hitchcock films for me 🙂

      Like

  3. September 19, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Oh dear – that would freak me out. Do they ever try to peck at you or anything? I’ve had a similar experience with barn swallows and friends and hubby thought I was silly when I said these birds tried to attack me – but they were protecting their babies I guess. sounds like a real issue where you live!

    Like

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm

      Hi Jodie, yes they do peck some people and draw blood but usually it’s just a scare tactic to swoop and get you away from their nests. It can be a hazardous time of year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. September 19, 2017 at 3:25 am

    Hopefully the cream did the trick!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. September 19, 2017 at 7:40 am

    In the northern isles we envcountered bonxies (great skua) who, if they thought you were too near their nests, would fly right at you with their scary big beaks. I was worried one might end up embedded in my forehead, so we took the hint.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. September 19, 2017 at 9:05 am

    I only have had ice cream pinched by seagulls and food by monkeys … I don’t like the thought of being swooped from behind by a magpie! I think if I see magpie warning signs like that I’d steer well clear ! 😜

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Yes I agree Linda, there’s nothing worse than the sound of their flapping coming up behind you. I’m staring to get a complex 🙂

      Like

  7. September 19, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Yikes! I used to be scared of magpies and I’m still wary of them but they don’t faze me quite as much these days. Hopefully now that you’ve shared afternoon tea together they’ll see you as that sweet woman and they’ll leave you alone. Good luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      Thanks Miriam, I’m getting worse as I get older I think. I’m sure sharing afternoon tea with this one will do the trick now!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Eliza
    September 19, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I believe you passed this down to me! Magpies do not like me and go out of their way to scare and intimidate me! I now know who to blame.
    Thanks mum 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – I’m sorry I’ve passed this onto you 🙂

      Like

  9. September 19, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Oh my gosh, I had no idea magpies did this! You have such a way with words though and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment, I had fun writing it too 🙂

      Like

  10. September 19, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    We don’t have Magpies where I live, but I would give a lot to see a picture of you with a bucket on your head fending off Magpies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      Thankfully there is no evidence of me with a bucket on my head 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 21, 2017 at 11:30 pm

        Too bad. That would have gone viral.

        Liked by 1 person

        • September 22, 2017 at 5:15 pm

          Ahh yes I’m sure it would have but I won’t sink to those levels for a viral post just yet!!

          Like

  11. September 20, 2017 at 5:47 am

    I had never heard of this before. I am glad you feel safer now! A bit. 😉
    Thinking of it. I guess cats hate me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. September 20, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Apparently you have to befriend them Deb and then you are friends for life! Fortunately, I haven’t been swooped but hope I haven’t spoken too soon. Enjoy your week xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      Thanks Sue, I’ve had a great week with mum and visiting dad, all without being swooped, so all is well with the world. Have a great weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. September 20, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    I laughed and laughed at the idea of you riding and screaming at the magpie attacking you!!

    I was attacked by a magpie when Rochelle was a baby – 33 years ago – and I still have the scar on my head!

    The scariest experience was when a plover attacked me because it flew at me from the front. That wasn’t nice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks for laughing at your poor sister in dire need of saving from a scary magpie! I think a plover coming at you from the front would be just as dreadful as being swooped from behind. I’d forgotten you were attacked all those years ago.

      Like

  14. September 21, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Poor you! this reminds me of Pamela Allen’s book ‘Waddle Giggle Gargle’ 🙂 plovers are just as bad and they have barbs on their wings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      What, barbs on their wings – that would be dreadful! Thanks for haring that with me Annie 🙂

      Like

  15. September 22, 2017 at 3:48 am

    Canadian Geese in the states are similar, granted they don’t dive bomb people. During the birthing season though if so much as get in the same area code as a momma/poppa goose look out. They will hiss and run at you until you are a safe (thinking a mile) distance away from them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 22, 2017 at 8:10 am

      Oh man, canadian geese are hateful – they’re all over my campus, but they tolerate my son, who approaches them with zero fear. Maybe that’s it; they smell fear?

      Liked by 1 person

    • September 22, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Sounds like a great place to stay away from at this time!

      Like

  16. September 22, 2017 at 8:08 am

    I work at a college in the States and the crows around here are enormous – like hawk-sized/small turkey. Thankfully they’re pretty chill, but they are somewhat aggressive in the spring.

    I still love birds though haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. September 24, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    I love Magpies but we don’t have them in and around New York City though hundreds of different birds pass through each year. They are one of my favorite birds to paint and I love your story and your photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 26, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t dislike magpies but can’t say they’re a favourite. I’m impressed with your sketching!

      Like

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