Overseas visitors to Australia often seem to have the impression that we have here a vast range of animals waiting to jump out and kill any passing human being without notice. To support this belief, they will tell us what they’ve heard about our vicious and deadly sharks, dingos, spiders, crocodiles, snakes, scorpions, jelly fish, etc. Some will even express surprise that so many of us have managed to survive as long as we have.
And all that’s before we get to telling them about drop bears, hoop snakes, killer kangaroos, and bunyips. Here’s a picture of a typical bunyip attack:
Anyway, for all you non-Aussies reading this, take note that we are now and until the end of October in the swooping season, which means that survival is even more precarious because of swooping magpies. It’s nesting time for magpies, and anyone who happens to be in their “territory” is at risk of attack. For example, this news item: “Postman, Ray Daley was attacked from behind by an especially angry magpie. Mr Daley was so shocked, he fell off his bike, spraining his ankle. To outwit his assailants, Mr Daley now rides along the streets of Revesby wearing his sunglasses on the back of his head.”
Although there have not thus far been any reported deaths due to magpie attacks, minor injuries due to scratching or pecking of the head or eyes are not uncommon. Various strategies are adopted to minimise the risk. Children in high-risk areas often wear an ice-cream container on their head while walking to school. Cyclists sometimes turn their helmets into “no-go” zones using cable ties.
You have been warned!
And here’s the picture Jo sent (see comments) — of innocent looking plover parents, who turn vicious if they think their little ones are under threat. If I were you, I’d give all Australian birds a wide berth — and if you notice an emu flying towards you, you’re in big trouble!