Mag­gie swoop fear has me in a flap

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS -

MY mates will give me flak for this but here goes — I have an ir­ra­tional fear of be­ing swooped by mag­pies.

I don’t know what’s caused it but in re­cent months the fear has in­ten­si­fied dur­ing my daily walks be­tween the Addy of­fice and my car.

The black and white crit­ters have taken up their po­si­tions along Bel­ler­ine St in town, be­tween Mundy St and McKil­lop St.

If I’m ever go­ing to be swooped then this is where it will hap­pen.

Fauna ex­perts say birds swoop when they feel threat­ened. But I’m the least threat­en­ing per­son I know.

De­spite their size, mag­pies seem ever ready to at­tack with ag­gres­sive stares their rest­ing ex­pres­sion.

I don’t know why but mag­pies aren’t scared away by my pres­ence in the same way their cousins the pi­geon and seag­ull are.

My un­easi­ness around mag­pies has grown in re­cent time to such a de­gree that even hear­ing their war­bles has me on edge. I’m happy to give mag­pies a go, but they need to work with me and lighten up a bit. I’ve thought the mag­pies in Gee­long are just ul­tra ag­gres­sive due to a bit of a hang­over of pro­tec­tive­ness from their breed­ing sea­son which is be­tween Au­gust and Oc­to­ber. It’s even crossed my mind to wear a hel­met adorned with ca­ble ties to pro­tect my­self from pos­si­ble swoops. For so long I thought the men and women who wore ca­ble ties on their hel­mets were com­mit­ting the most hor­ren­dous fash­ion faux pas, but re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence has given me per­spec­tive, and I now un­der­stand why they choose to wear this sort of pro­tec­tion.

The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land and Plan­ning say birds may be less likely to swoop if they think you are watch­ing them and rec­om­mend draw­ing a pair of eyes and at­tach­ing them to the back of hats and hel­mets. For me that’s a bit over the top.

I’ve walked dif­fer­ent routes to work but mag­pies just seem to fol­low me.

Ac­cord­ing to emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor in an­i­mal be­hav­iour Gisela Ka­plan, mag­pies re­mem­ber and recog­nise hu­man faces and re­mem­ber them for years.

So maybe my ticket to avoid be­ing swooped is lay­ing out a Hansel-and-Gre­tel style trail of bread­crumbs to keep the mag­pies happy.

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