A Bit on the Nose

My post of yesterday about dealing with aggression in birds, especially towards humans, has caused quite a flurry of comments, both on this blog and on the Birding-Aus forum.

A number of birders have commented on the fact that they have experienced being swooped by Red Wattlebirds. I’ve not seen that myself, but I do know that our resident Red Wattlebirds give most other bird species a hard time. They can be very bossy indeed. Especially towards small species like Pardalotes.

Bill wrote a very humourous post to Birding-Aus about his recent close encounter with a determined Red Wattlebird. Bill has kindly allowed me to quote his email in full.

You’ve heard of garden lists, life lists and hand lists, well this is
now on my nose list.

This morning I was riding to work, just starting along my home street
(Kew East, Victoria), when I passed the nesting site of a red
wattlebird. This individual, like some other red wattlebirds, tends to
swoop at this time of year. They hurt less than magpies, but I’ve found
them to be much more tenacious.

My normal defence against wattlebirds and magpies is to look around
ostentatiously, in the belief that birds only swoop from behind, and
they break off when they see you watching them. However, when you’re
riding a bike, it’s – shall we say – “advisable” to keep an eye out
forwards as well, meaning you can’t be watching over your shoulder all
the time.

Of course, the wattlebird was in the process of attacking from behind as
I turned my head. It was probably six inches and closing when I found
myself face to belly. It broke off – or at least attempted to, and I
got clouted by wings on each ear as well as a nose full of belly. I was
lucky, thinking about it, not to get an eye full of claws.

You know that yellow patch on a red wattlebird’s belly? It was a cold
morning and I had a slightly “cold air” runny nose. This guy’s belly
patch is now green.


Thanks very much to Bill for this contribution to my blog.

Readers’ Project:

  • Have you had an amusing encounter with a bird?
  • I invite all of my readers to share close or amusing encounters with birds.
  • Use the comments section below.

3 Responses to “A Bit on the Nose”

  1. […] I have written a followup article called A Bit on the Nose. This post quotes in full an amusing email sent to the the Birding-Aus forum today. Special thanks to Bill for permission to quote the email in full. […]

  2. Paula Ziebarth says:

    July 13, 2003

    I am getting the biggest kick out of the red winged blackbird that lives in pine tree across road from our vacation home at Put-in-Bay, Ohio. It is so entertaining to watch him hit people in the head. Here is his modus operandi. If you are in a covered vehicle (golf cart included), he stays in his tree. If you walk past his tree, he generally swoops down really close to your head, but doesn’t hit you. If you run past his tree, thwack – hits you on the head. If you ride a bicycle or motorcycle past his tree – THWACK! – he hits you really hard on your head. It is fun to listen to the cursing and screams from unsuspecting passersby and even more fun to watch those who know he’s there. Yesterday, a young boy (around 8) on his bike cautiously approached, asking the bird to please leave him alone. He turned back once when bird flew at his head. Then he made a fast run for it on his bike and THWACK! – got it good. His yells faded quickly as he was moving quite fast. Today my husband Rick rode a motorcycle past the tree, THWACK on his head (said he hit him hard) and pooped on back of motorcycle. Life is fun, isn’t it?

  3. […] A bit on the nose – a humorous close encounter with a bird […]

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