Screaming boy on Shellharbour Rd the face of Australia's swooping season

A scene from Wayne Sherwood's now-viral video shows his son being swooped by a magpie.
A scene from Wayne Sherwood's now-viral video shows his son being swooped by a magpie.

A boy screaming in terror as a magpie pursues him down Shellharbour Road at Lake Illawarra has become the face of Australia's springtime.

Wayne Sherwood's footage of his son Max is going viral after he posted it to Instagram on Monday, telling followers, "Australia is beautiful but our native birds are killers. They'll eat your kids alive. Beware hahaha ."

The footage shows young Max approaching on his scooter, ducking low and desperately pushing off as a bird comes at him from behind.

Sherwood, who is heard laughing from behind the camera, explained in later posts that the video was something of a character-building exercise.

"He [Max] wouldn't come past after he saw [the magpie] hit me. He turned back. Then I'm down the road getting my phone out yelling ... 'it's all good Max he's gone'."

In a later post, Sherwood shows himself and a now-laughing Max getting swooped together, explaining he was "conquering my kid's demons".

Springtime is nesting season for magpies and the male birds often swoop to protect nearby nesting females and babies.

Patrick Medway, secretary of the Australian Wildlife Society, said the best way to stay protected from a magpie was to carry an umbrella.

"Don't hurt them; learn to live with them. It [swooping season] is only for a short period," he said. "It will only last for 10 days, two weeks max, because by then the young have hatched and it's not a problem."

"The beautiful call of the magpie is distinctively Australian.

"Their swooping is always exaggerated. In many cases it's just to give people a fright. If a dog rushes at you they only have to growl and you jump back, startled. It's the same with a bird. They won't hit you nine times out of ten."

Breeding magpies tend to return to the same nesting tree year-on-year, so that certain spots become known, repeat swooping zones.

This story Screaming boy on Shellharbour Rd the face of Australia's swooping season first appeared on Camden-Narellan Advertiser.