As we are teased with a sniff of glorious spring this August, our minds are also flooded with the haunting memories of black and white. And no, I’m not talking about Collingwood supporters. I’m referring to their crazy winged ancestors- the merciless magpie.
Well, hold on to your heads Swan Hill residents. Reported sightings tell us that our black and white feathered friends have descended upon us early (literally), and I have a sneaky suspicion they are not here for a peace offering. We are now officially under attack.
Prepare your sticks, don the spiky helmet and grow eyes on the back of your head, because they have a chip on their shoulder. And I can assure you that it’s not their own. Their presence is growing as they hover on every corner, ready to pounce on defenceless prey.
But as we prepare to embrace the warmer weather – and step outside for a walk, run or a bike ride – we mustn’t let these unlawful creatures and their spontaneous ‘click, click, clicking’ dictate our sunny spring activities. So I have prepared a brief magpie survival guide to help you on your merry way…
They are above the law
You can run, but you can’t hide. They will hunt you down. And no amount of law enforcement will protect you from these crazies. They line the fringes of Swan Hill: Yana Street, Tower Hill and Karine Street. In fact, they have even infiltrated the entrance to the Police station on Campbell Street. If you thought the power of the law was enough to save your sorry head, think again. It is right out the front that the most vicious magpie in Swan Hill lies in wait, and his distaste for the two-wheeled variety is unmistakeable.
And don’t expect any help from our men and women in blue. I am almost certain they thrive on cheap and humorous entertainment in the safety of their beak-free office as their human counterparts are ducking and weaving frantically before their eyes. Unfortunately (but understandably), you are on your own.
If you can escape the confines of Swan Hill unscathed, sometimes the less populated tracks beyond the town boundaries provide a peaceful sanctuary, free of angry magpies. But be warned, these tired magpie parents are unpredictable and erratic, so do so at your own risk.
Run like hell!
Think you can’t run? During magpie season, there’s a potential world-record holder in all of us. Once you hear that familiar tapping or the mystifying swoop of a wing, your legs will accelerate like road runner. Change your mindset; the maggies are an asset. Embrace the swoop and you’ll be setting personal best times you never thought feasible. It’s the most cost effective form of personal training on the market.
Immerse yourself in armour
If you think you’re immune to a territorial magpie, you’ve been living under a rock. Literally. This is war and these unforgiving creatures provide no mercy. The more ridiculous you appear the better! Don’t leave any skin for the pecking: gloves, pants, jumpers, spiky helmets, crazy hats, sunglasses, crazy zombie masks, body vests, balaclavas and elbow pads. Ensure you cover all bases. No outfit is complete without accessories, so arm yourself with the longest, most fearsome looking stick and hold it with magpie scaring confidence. You’ll be simply ‘unpeckable.’
The ‘crazy arm waving’ method
Ever seen some a mad person running along Yana Street while swiping their arm vigorously in the air at absolutely nothing? No they haven’t lost their marbles (although there may be some emotional damage). More than likely, they were just victims of a vicious attack.
For the more spontaneous attack in suburban areas, your arm is your best asset. As the claws descend upon your scalp, your only option is to wave your arm like a crazy person until the magpie either vacates or the feeling in your arm does. Yes, bystanders may question your sanity, but the struggle is real and empathy is widespread during the months of August, September and October. So wave that arm like a crazed lunatic.
And if that fails, curl yourself into the foetal position and let them peck away. They’ll eventually tire. A bird’s got to eat!
It is destined to fail, but you could go into hiding. These creatures are like brusque debt collectors, relentlessly stalking you for a crime your cousin’s brother’s great grandmother allegedly committed before you were born, and they want reimbursement. Find a nearby hiding spot and hope like hell the sinister bird flies away to collect another of his debts.
Safety in numbers
Gather your friends. Gather your enemies. Or creepily stalk the back of another group of allies. One little magpie against 20 bike riders is a little less daunting. Besides, with more companionship comes more heads to share the burden.
We all dread the magpie mayhem that comes with spring, but there is no denying the humour that comes with it (maybe ten years later). And if you’ve got someone to share the beak atrocities with, the amusing memories will be forever present.Plus, it’s slightly more hilarious when the carnage unfolds on another victim.
Go out at night. Who needs sleep anyway? You might become a vitamin B deficient vampire lookalike who never has any fun or friends, but you’ll be safe from beaks and claws.
So, as these black and white birds prepare to infiltrate our trees, backyards, popular local haunts and parks – some making their fierce mark on Swan Hill already – it’s time to grow a thick skin if you want to enjoy a sunny spring. Remember, they are only protecting their young (regardless of how psychologically messed up they appear) so cut them some slack. Besides, who hasn’t been a little on the crazy side after they’ve had kids?
Header photo: http://www.telegraph.co.uk