Oh, swooper

I’ve known for a long time that magpies swoop at bicyclists and pedestrians. However, only recently, when a couple of aggressive ones did swoop at me, did I realised they were just protecting their territory. Turns out, magpies swoop during the hatching season just to make sure no humans get to their eggs.

That’s understandable. Parental reflexes—a necessary instinct even, considering how inconsiderate humans can be.

Once I knew that, I learnt to maintain respectful distance. It’s been a while since, and though I still like observing magpies, I know better than to mess with them.

I’ve also become accustomed to navigating the streets without cowering, throwing anxious glances between branches every time I walk under a tree, overly-cautious about potential bird attacks.

In fact, I’d almost forgot. Until—


A tiny, harmless-looking bird flew down on me as I walked past the tree in our front garden. I didn’t linger, but from what I did notice, it looked like a hummingbird, except (thank goodness!) it had a less sharp beak. Co-incidental, I wondered, smiling to myself as I continued my morning walk around the neighbourhood.

As I returned, though, at the exact same spot, the bird came at me again. This time, my feet went auto. It was no longer a co-incidence, and I duck-jogged the little pathway to my front door.

Later, upon further investigation, I learnt to my dismay, that magpies and male ducks aren’t the only Australian birds that aggressively attack if they deem you a threat. Here’s a list, but I doubt it’s exhaustive.

The Grey Butcherbird of Australia
The Grey Butcherbird of Australia

Looks like the one out to get me is a grey butcherbird.

They’re beautiful birds, endemic to Australia. And like a lot of natural creatures that sprawl this country, grey butchers can also hurt you. Or at least scare you pretty badly.

Oh, well.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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