I’ll be the first to admit I thoroughly enjoy all the “holy shit, Australia” posts that circulate around here but I feel like there’s a very important caveat when it comes to the discussion of swooping season that no one seems to mention.
For those not aware, swooping season is when the magpies start to nest and turn into mini dive-bombers comprised of talons, feathers and spite. It’s not fun. I bled heavily after a particularly vicious swoop when I was a kid, and I’m definitely not the only one.
But here’s the thing: swooping is not an innate behaviour. It’s a learned one. I realised this the moment I moved out of home and began my decade long (entirely unintentional) habit of moving to a different suburb every two years.
I’ve met a lot of wildlife, walking everywhere as I do. And I’ve met a lot of magpies - hella intelligent creatures that are probably thinking “what the fuck is this chick doing” every time I say hi to them as I walk past.
When I first moved out of home, I automatically started taking notes on areas I saw magpies in preparation for swooping season. It was just the done thing. It wasn’t until September came and went and the magpies in my area continued their quizzical but otherwise completely non-aggressive behaviour that it started to twig with me.
The next few years of moving around solidified my suspicions.
Anytime I lived close to a school or in an area with a high concentration of families with young kids, the magpies would swoop. Any suburb (usually inner city) with a high concentration of childless households and/or share-houses: no swooping to be seen.
And it’s any goddamn wonder.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve yelled at kids for messing with wildlife. I grew up in the outer suburbs, so there was no shortage of mini-assholes with an empathy shortage. Australian kids will poke anything they can reach with a stick, and throw rocks at everything else. Including birds nests.
Magpies are intelligent as hell, and they remember shit for GENERATIONS. Some human-shaped fucker throwing rocks at them and their nests? That’s something that’d stick.
So anytime you read one of those “lol the birds try to kill us here” posts, remember: it’s not the birds that started that shit - it was the asshole humans.