This article contains material of a satirical nature that may offend some readers. Please note the photos are awful, but the story is good/scary/funny.

For months now I have been in serious training. Magpie training. It’s full on magpie breeding season here in Canberra (Australia) and for the unlucky few, a walk, cycle or broomstick ride, may lead to being dive-bombed by a rampaging magpie. As of a few minutes ago, the count on the number of magpie attacks that have occurred in Australia this year is 3798, with 466 injuries (see Australia’s Magpie Swooping Map 2020). The number of attacks and injuries are likely significantly under-reported. But have no fear, ladies and gentlemen, there are a couple of ways to mitigate the risks.

Firstly, you can dress appropriately for walking and get to know your local magpies and they, you, throughout the year, or you can stay inside, never to emerge from the safety of your home. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’ve been working on the first strategy, but my confidence has been seriously shaken recently by my children reporting that they had been swooped several times in recent weeks. Then I saw a woman walking down my street waving a small branch with copious foliage. Magpie/human interaction had now been weaponised. Clearly an attempt at camouflage or some sort of xxxx-weak magpie deterrent. Thankfully our magpies are a protected species, otherwise you know where this story could go.

Since I’ve been doing all this magpie training, I decided to pull on my big girl pants, runners and face mask; grab my camera; and put the magpie training to the test. So I walked to the pharmacy. While I was waiting for my script, I went for a short stroll “outback”. This magpie gave me “the look”.

I held my nerve and the moment passed without incident. When I collected my prescription, the pharmacist told me that a magpie had swooped her in the same area that I had just been walking. I attributed my successful and peaceful encounter to my earlier magpie training, as well as my face mask, camera and big girl pants. Still, at the back of my mind, I couldn’t help wondering whether I had just got lucky. Buried in the dark recesses of my mind was this.

And this.

However, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I kept walking, but this time I went out without my usual walking accoutrements. By this, I mean my camera. Get your minds out of the gutter, ladies and gentlemen. Anyway, I felt naked without my camera but also somehow immune to magpie attack due to the training. Magpies exploit weaknesses. You have to do everything right and even then, sometimes you still get caught out.

So yep, as I was walking down the hill I heard the thud of bird wings and the click of a beak and my hair stood on end as the magpie flew through the strands of my billowing hair. Then it flew off to a nearby tree and watched me. I was strangely euphoric. I had faced danger and I had survived. I felt invincible. No fear. Yes, I was clearly delusional from the blood that had rushed to my nether regions. Unfortunately, it could have been a lot, lot worse (google magpie attacks boy on scooter) and the physical and psychological damage long-lasting. Then sanity prevailed. I think it will be a few weeks before I take that route again. No need to repeat the same mistake.

Okay, apologies. Time to lighten things up. The other day I walked out of the bathroom and found this.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. And approach with caution.

This is my response to the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Photo Walk, and the Ragtag Daily Prompt – Serious.

Do take care. Stay safe and stay sane.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

68 thoughts on “Walking With Magpies

  1. We have a magpie family that live over the back fence in some natural bush. I used to feed them the occasional oatmeal but have stopped this year. They still drop in sometimes and try to get me by singing a nice tune and tapping on the window! Sometimes I weaken and then the whole family arrives and I remember not to feed them next time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so nice, isn’t it, to have made the connection with your little magpie family? I’m on good terms with the magpies in our street. Good that you are not giving your magpies mince, Rainee. It is not good for young ones in particular. This year I bought some insectivore mix but I haven’t resorted to that because the ground is very soft from lots of rain and hopefully there are sufficient insects in the soil for our magpie friends.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No, not retrieving hair, Judy. The swoopers are just wanting to keep people away from their nests. I was fortunate to get only the one swoop. Some are particularly aggressive in that they come back several times and can hit the head with some force. Helmets just make a better target. Still, it only lasts a few weeks and then they return to their lovely selves.

      Like

  2. Nothing ( so far) so exciting happens to me. Oh, wait. When I was 11 and going to school, a pigeon did what a pigeon has to do after breakfast, straight on top of my head. Instinctively, a put my hand to my head to see what had happened ….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That reminds me of something. I was in fourth grade having my lunch, with a couple of friends, under a tree in the school grounds when a kite swooped down and snatched my chappati (bread).
        A few years ago my kids were all agog when I related this incident to them. They wanted to know my reaction. I told them I was too shocked to react. I just sat there. They couldn’t believe that neither did I scream nor run after the kite! They forget I was a child during the last century and histrionics was not our forte!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  3. When magpies get to know you, they donโ€™t swoop. We have a couple that visit our garden and theyโ€™re not bothered by us at all. On the other hand, a man in our town affixes plastic ties (the kind used on those folk suspected of some crime or other) to his bike helmet so that they stick straight up in the air. They seem to do the trick although he looks quite comical, especially as he wears them all, year round, not just in the magpie swooping season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why I do so much training with the magpies, Jane. ๐Ÿ™‚ I always make a point of stopping to chat to the magpies when I’m out and about. On this occasion, it was directly across from a school. There are always some kids who haven’t been taught not to chase birds. That infuriates me actually but what you can you do! Some people think it is cute. Sounds like Mudgee magpies must all know the guy with the helmet with the plastic attachments. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We Australians are not phased by the many venomous snakes and spiders or the sharks that infest our waters, but Magpies drive the fear into our being. I hope our overseas readers add magpies to their lists of the dangers of visiting our shores ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The Covids can be a rough crew. We had a crow family nesting in our cherry tree and as the fledglings were preparing to leave the nest the cacophony of dire threats was outrageous. I was on my deck and the birds were at least six meters away and the full on abused continued. I was not close enough to be swooped. The Canada goose defends its nest by dropping in and rushing at the unwary faster than anyone can run, the goose hissing, wing flapping and pecking. Their nests are often in tree stumps and are well hidden. If you do not not realize what a โ€œNesting Geeseโ€ sign means. Prepare for wrath of a demented mother bird. Great story Tracy and Magpies look ornery!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sid. It was only a semi-ornery magpie. It didn’t come back a second time or a fifth time. ๐Ÿ™‚
      The corvids can be a rough crew too. ๐Ÿ™‚ I knew what you meant though. Funny birds. Best decision to keep your distance. From the Canadian geese too. Keep your children safe.

      Like

  6. Today was a challenging day and I so appreciate the chuckle at the end of the day! I’d definitely be watching out for those fellows who gave you the evil eye, they do not look trustworthy! I think Ama was trying to demonstrate how to handle yourself when under attack!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Heather, I am sorry your day was so awful. I’m glad I could cheer you up a bit. I’ve got another horse story but finding the time to write is difficult.
      Yes, that could have been what Ama was doing. However, it was more of a “You shall not pass here without showing your adoration for a beauty such as I.” ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I chuckled all the way through this adventure Tracy.. swooping season is nearly over now, the babies are leaving the nests around here. We have 2 families one lot on the front deck and the other on the back and they never cross into each otherโ€™s territory. I guess theyโ€™ll be bringing their babies round soon to introduce them

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Pauline, you are so lucky. I’ve only got one regular magpie that I see at the moment. The currawongs are taking over the joint and all the best trees for breeding. It will be so lovely when your magpies visit with their babies. I’ve saw one fledgling begging for food a couple of days ago. Hopefully the first of many more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have 2 currawongs in the front deck family, but they are bottom of the pecking order and just hang around the edges. The Maggieโ€™s are the bosses with the butcher birds second in command and of course there are the noisy minors that zip in and out grabbing what they can. It is a real performance every morning at breakfast time. We eat breakfast on the front deck, overlooking the garden, with all our feathered friends.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. We don’t have magpies in the States, but we do have Red-winged Black Birds that are more than happy to attack anyone who gets too close to their territory. So you have my sympathies and also my admiration for standing up to those scary birds!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. And I thought our red-wing blackbirds were bad! I admire your bravery. Is it any wonder I am terrified of birds. My daughter sent me a text yesterday saying that she and her daughter-in-law had taken my great-grandson to the zoo and while sitting eating lunch at a picnic bench there, a Canada goose had walked right up to them and pecked the two-year old on the arm. Yikes! Stay safe, Tracy.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My daughter said that the goose wouldn’t back down even though they tried to fend it off. And it’s not even nesting season! I have to admit, Tracy, that those goldfinch pictures that I took were from behind the safety of closed windows. Which reminds me, I really must get out there and clean them.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Haven’t had to live with magpies for about 20 years, but still feel traumatised enough by being swooped on that this post gave me heart palpitations.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s