Magpies, the swooping angry birds endemic to Australia, are complete cunts. Clearly among the inspiration for Daphne Du Maurier’s noir tale The Birds, these swooping birds will pluck out an eye or nip off the ear of any hapless pedestrian or cyclist enjoying the warming weather.
Magpie season has begun early this year, and according to news.com.au the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne has reported that they’ve seen the incidence of magpie-related injuries increasing in recent years. According to one website that tracks attacks, there have been over 1,900 magpie attacks so far, with 244 resulting in injuries.
Birdlife Australia has released a disaster plan to avoid attacks, including protecting oneself with “glasses, a sturdy hat or umbrella”, and broadsheet.com.au gives the explicit instruction to “Don’t fight back”, reminding Aussies that harming a magpie is illegal. While it doesn’t seem that the playing field is even, there are multiple reporting sites which urge victims to log their attacks so they can at least warn other residents away from swooping hotspots.
Magpies are staple residents of Australia’s urban areas. They are among the small percentage of birds who will attack during breeding season. For magpies, this usually begins in late August and extends through October. The attacks start to occur once eggs have hatched, and the birds become more aggressive as the chicks get older and fledge. New York City, for example, has a similar problem with mockingbirds attacking citizens during fledging season.
There are nine subspecies of the Australian magpie. The robust birds range from about 14 to 17 inches in length and are one of Australia’s more beloved songbirds (except at this particular time of year). They are able to make a range of complex tunes that vary in pitch over four octaves. They also mimic the sounds of over 35 different species of birds, as well as dogs and horses.
As the magpie apocalypse descends upon Oz once again, as in any good horror flick the faster victims run, the quicker the birds will come for them. The website Magpie Alert! documents magpie bloodlust from everyday Aussies. “Magpie flew in from the side and smashed into the side of my head and it’s beak went under my glasses and made my eyelid bleed. My head is still ringing it hit that hard,” wrote one user named Leanne Hodge.
“No warning of attack. Made contact with helmet. Then a bit of menacing hovering,” wrote another named Chris Wells. “Swooped and hit multiple times (took a couple of chunks out of my head and caused bleeding) Followed me all the way up the road to Kinghorne St- wouldn’t stop,” wrote another. “I was walking across Jelbart Park and then out of nowhere a magpie swooped me 5 times. Then I was sitting on a seat nowhere near trees and a smaller one came at me and swooped me twice,” reported user Kiera Higgs.
Wear your helmets kiddos, and be careful out there!
Watch the little peckers in action below:
This Magpie attacks me every day, He’s very aggressive
Jacinta West is Australia correspondent for DANGEROUS.
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