Those pesky humans, they just keep on pestering me. Right when I’ve just laid the perfect nest and my little ones are preparing to come into the world. I’ve spent ages getting everything just right. They just come along, right under my tree, making me really anxious. Today a human with a body the colour of the sky, sped past at an astonishing sped while sitting on top of two circular spinning things. It made me so agitated, I just had to try and get it away. As quick as a heartbeat I swooped down from my perch and chased it from behind. My attack was so swift, I caught it unaware and BOOM! I gave it a mighty thud to the side of the head. Well, it got a fright alright. It yelped and fled the scene, away from my nest. Phew!
Perhaps these were the thoughts of the magpie that attacked me while I was out cycling a couple of weeks ago in Brisbane, Australia. Springtime in Queensland is known locally as a time when territorial birds can swoop, sometimes viciously attacking people. Butcher birds, miners, magpies, they all have their various tactics. This spring I’ve had a few close calls, but this one gave me one hell of a fright and slightly broke skin on my left ear (I have photographic evidence, but it’s pretty unimpressive).
Brisbane City Council signs warn people about swooping birds during spring time
This incident made me think further about people and nature. We often collide with each other. Bees sting. Mosquitoes bite. Sharks attack. Cyclones ravish. Torrential rains devastate. Not to mention all the things we do to nature. More often than not, we are in nature’s way, oblivious to the consequences of our actions. Nature has a way of trying to make us realise that we can’t control everything. That our interactions with it can cause self inflicting wounds. It seems to be constantly giving us signs that it is stressed out and unbalanced.
But what about those more subtle signals that don’t affect us physically or don’t cause us direct economic damage? Those gradual changes in nature that we implicit in, that are becoming increasingly well known and documented? Like the decline of insect populations, most likely caused by our overuse of pesticides and habitat destruction, which could have disastrous flow on effects to our ability to feed ourselves globally. That is, our whole way of life. Or the impact we are having on our global climate system which is already having noticeable impacts on both people and nature alike.
Do we need a strong knock to the head to actually realise the impact we are having on the global ecosystem? What will it take us to realise the strength of the thread which binds us and nature together? Being attacked by a magpie made me realise that we can’t escape interacting with the natural world, even when we don’t have bad intentions. But I do wonder, what other messages is nature trying to tell us? And what will it take for us to start listening?