A swooping magpie has targeted a young footballer during a game in Adelaide in what one expert says may be a case of mistaken identity.
- Videos posted online show a young football player being swooped repeatedly by a magpie
- An expert says running around and throwing things is the opposite of what to do in magpie breeding season
- The season starts in August and runs into September
A series of videos posted on Instagram show the bird chasing a boy wearing a helmet at the under 14s match between the Angle Vale Owls and the Unley Jets at Payneham Oval yesterday.
The Angle Vale player can be seen running around the field while the magpie follows him near his head.
The boy was not injured in the incident, coach Peter Nisbet told ABC Radio Adelaide.
He said it was “only his heart” that hurt after the team’s loss by two points in the second round of finals in SANFL Juniors division 4.
Deb Kelly, an Adelaide vet who was previously the animal welfare manager at the Department for Environment and Water, said it was possible the boy looked like another one who had annoyed the magpie in a previous breeding season.
“Maybe a small blond boy was chucking sticks at them last year and they remember that the kid with the blond hair was the one attacking us, so they will try and attack the kid with the blond hair and it might not be the same kid,” she said.
She said the magpie breeding season started in mid-August, followed by nesting two weeks later.
It only lasted about six weeks, she said.
Tips to avoid getting swooped included walking slowly instead of running and not throwing things at magpies.
“Obviously, a football team is not going to do any of those things,” Dr Kelly said.
“They’re throwing balls at them from their perspective — they’re running around waving their arms and screaming — so without meaning to, they’re making themselves the perfect target at the perfect time.”
Dr Kelly said other tips included not looking at magpies in the eyes and putting distractions up like flags or umbrellas.
She said a sign could be put up at the oval warning of magpies swooping, but not actually hurting people.
“Enjoy the fact you’ve got an oval that actually has wildlife,” Dr Kelly suggested.
Source: AFL NEWS ABC