Now and then i go to Cleveland in Brisbane near the water.
A few months ago i was walking through Foreshore Park. Along the way there was some very noisy squawking from 2 or 3 birds, i think – i can’t recall exactly – not far away.
I couldn’t work out why these birds were being so noisy. I remember thinking to myself, and probably even commenting out loud, how frantic and angry they were.
They continued as i walked, and as i approached, one or two of them launched at me. Then i realised – they were squawking at me, warning me not to come closer.
While last year i seemed to be a popular target for swooping, i’d never before been subject to such loud and continued warnings – although i didn’t recognise them as such at the time – and subsequent sustained direct attack. These birds flew at me repeated times.
Magpies that swoop during mating season typically aim in the region of your crown. But these birds flew straight at me, coming at my face. Not every time, but they were prepared to confront me head on.
Luckily, i was carrying a shirt i wasn’t wearing, and used that to wave off the birds, so each time they flew close, they never actually hit me. Maybe my arms could’ve served a similar purpose – or maybe they would’ve been hit – i don’t know.
The birds squawked, flew and ‘bombed’ with real intensity.
Finally i got far enough away and they gave up their attack.
I thought it was an amusing and curious incident, but didn’t think about it until one or two weeks ago, when i was walking through the park again.
As i approached a bird – this time definitely only one – some upset squawking started up. Based on my previous experience, i figured it was probably directed at me.
Even so, i kept walking. Sure enough, at some point the bird attacked. Again, i was carrying a shirt around, so i used that to wave off the bird.
While i got past the attack sooner this time, and it wasn’t as sustained, i still wonder what would’ve happened if i didn’t have my shirt.
I was curious about what type of birds launch these types of attacks, but unfortunately my ability to identify birds is next to non existent.
Maybe they were Noisy Miners, though i can’t recall yellow beaks. Even so, this might be because i wasn’t really paying attention and was occupied discouraging their attacks.
Still, the Noisy Miners where i live don’t attack like this – but maybe the ones in Cleveland were a different type and had a stronger sense that part of the park was their territory?
Whether they were Noisy Miners or not, i find the following description of Miners from Wikipedia interesting:
Noisy miners are gregarious and territorial; they forage, bathe, roost, breed and defend territory communally, forming colonies that can contain several hundred birds. Each bird has an ‘activity space’ and birds with overlapping activity spaces form associations called ‘coteries’, the most stable units within the colony. The birds also form temporary flocks called ‘coalitions’ for specific activities such as mobbing a predator. Group cohesion is facilitated not only by vocalizations, but also through ritualised displays which have been categorised as flight displays, postural displays, and facial displays. The noisy miner is a notably aggressive bird, and chasing, pecking, fighting, scolding, and mobbing occur throughout the day, targeted at both intruders and colony members.
My fellow birds, whoever you are, thank you for the experience, but i come in peace!