Friday, September 30, 2011

I Got Swooped!

In Australia in the springtime, some birds (especially magpies) are known for "swooping." Basically, during the breeding season, the birds want to protect their nests, so they dive bomb toward people's heads. There are stories on the news of certain streets to avoid that have particularly violent birds, and there have actually been injuries because of this.

I guess this swooping thing happens a lot with bikers, so you see some people that have twist tie thingies sticking up from their helmets with the thought that the birds will swoop those instead of their heads (since they swoop the highest thing). People who do this look like ridiculous aliens. Anyway, I digress.

So yesterday when the rain seemed to have stopped, I headed out to grab a few groceries and pick up some dry cleaning. When I got out of Woolworth's, there was a downpour. My hands were full with grocery bags, and I of course hadn't brought my umbrella. So I got soaking wet while walking toward the dry cleaning place. While speeding down the sidewalk, I suddenly felt something hit me. It kind of side-swiped the back left corner of my (wet) head. It didn't hurt, but it surprised me. I looked up, and a squawking bird was perched on the wire above me just staring at me. I realized I had been swooped!

This is something that Zack and I joke about every time we see a magpie. "Watch out; you'll get swooped," we say, but we never thought it would actually happen. The bird that swooped me wasn't a magpie though. From what I can tell from my internet searching, I think it was a myna, which can also be spelled mynah, which may come from the word "miner" said with an Australian accent.

Anyway, who cares? The darn bird, whatever it's called, swooped me! It did another swoop down toward me, squawking the whole time, but it didn't hit me the second time. I got a little scared then (I didn't want my brains pecked out!), so I started walking in the street, and it seemed to leave me alone.

Part of me wonders if I was especially vulnerable because my wet hair looked like a nest? Check out the embarrassingly lovely picture below to see what I mean! So yeah, I've been swooped. Does this make me officially Australian?

Soaked and Swooped


  1. oh man. i got swooped biking in santa cruz one time by a starling i think. it scared me!

  2. Is it self defense if you take a bird out
    that has swooped you? Cody has some stories
    about redwing blackbirds swooping him on the
    bike. And yes I read these things.
    Uncle Mike

  3. Hi Uncle Mike! I know there are websites and phone numbers you can contact if there is a particularly violent bird in your area, but I'm not sure about the rules for taking one down yourself. How would one go about doing that anyway?!

  4. Aubree, I got attacked by two robins last spring back by my spruce trees. I was trimming trees and one came out of the tree squawking (I did not know what was attacking me) so I ran. I ended up falling on my hand with the cutters in my hand and broke a bone in my hand. Pat had to take the rake and knock the birds off my back while I was on the ground. I also covered my head thinking they were going to peck out my eyes. This was just before Christopher's wedding. I remember the movie "The Birds" which was pretty weird. If you don't know what this movie is about, check it out at your library. Getting attacked by birds is no joke. It is quite scary and I still am not over it. When I see birds out by the garden when I want to go pick some vegetables, I am always clapping my hands to scare them away.

  5. There was a cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest that was not letting people get by on the trail, and they "took care" of the problem. Violent birds, who knew they

  6. Wow Aunt Jean-that's some SERIOUS swooping-yikes!

  7. They had a story on the news this summer about this happening in Grand Rapids outside the art museum. Video documentation and everything....looked pretty terrible!!

  8. Hi Aubree! I saw your comment about your mynah swooping experience. I've just started a blog on life in Melbourne and since I wrote a post on magpie swooping I've put a link to your experience on my page, which is at if you're interested in linking to it.

    I hope you've fully recovered from the shock now!

    All the best


  9. Thanks John-I look forward to keeping up with your blog!