Swoop to Kill | Alicia Bruzzone

Come in peace, leave in pieces.

Swoop to Kill

Alicia Bruzzone

For The Kneel in the Grass, Bison Award


I snap my beak and focus on the targets. Three predators are emerging from the giant shiny hill they just flew into the eucalypt grove on the fringes of my territory. They’ve already ignored my warning calls; this requires more serious action. My sheila’s sitting back in our nest, depending on me to protect our brood. They picked the wrong magpie to cross.

Circling around with a quick glide, I try to take them unawares from behind. A throaty chuckle escapes me as I swing by. I’ve seen all sorts of ridiculous headwear disguises in my day as those rotten people try and hurt my young, but these drongos take the lizard guts. Going all googly eyed on me.

Swooping with the force of a gale launched gumnut, I use my wings to maneuver in close and snap at whatever I can reach, herding the fellas away from our nest.

When they start to shriek I allow myself a cackle of contentment. Won’t be flying in here again soon.
Limbs slap towards me as I stealthily hover and sway, persistently attacking the top of these creatures. Panic flares through me as I redouble my efforts. They’re moving closer, not running away.
“KEV!” I scream in garbled call, relying on my family for reinforcements. My sister’s bird isn’t my favourite relative, but his feathers ruffle like unfurling wattle flowers when one of us is threatened.

“What’s up, Barry?” Kev chuckles with a cheeky flash of beak as he attacks, the tip coming out green from whatever he’s managed to peck.

Below our pounding wings, the group become louder and more agitated. A boom of thunder cracks through the air, sailing past Kev with enough force to send him soaring into the canopy “Oi, that shiny thing shot heat at me! What the bloody hell kind of joke is this?”

Somebody’s not a local; as if hot air would stop us. “Ever heard of a thing called summer?” I scream at the hostiles, going in for a full speed dive.

To my surprise, the others reply. “We come in peace! We come in peace!” they chant urgently, as searing heat blooms among the tree leaves surrounding Kev and I.

“Not here you don’t,” I squawk, rippling in for another swoop at their extremities. Entering my territory is a declaration of war.
“Well, we came in peace,” another surmises. He turns to the other fellas. “It attacked first, and it isn’t a dominant species. I’m not too concerned.” His shiny thing raises in a show of intimidation as another flock of summer air shoots out.

The edge of the blast ruffles my wing feathers, throwing me off course. We need reinforcements. A scan of the area shows a female in brown approaching. Sometimes it’s nice to find those tree-bark coloured people. Park Rangers or something they’re called. “Quick, we’ve got a witness. Act injured, Kev.”

Kev starts wailing and screaming, limping around on the compacted dirt beneath the trees. “Ow, my leg. It’s broken! Broken! I’ll never fly again!” he warbles, throwing his black and white body around.
I reckon the young’uns coulda heard their Uncle Kev through the shell. “Bloody oath, tone down the over-acting, Kev. You’ll end up in a recovery cage.”

“Hey, you lot! Over there. Stop!” the Ranger female orders.

Kev lets out another screaming complaint as I sail onto a branch with a good vantage point to witness the action.

The shiny thing is pointing up in the air, no longer forcing summer upon us. “I have a permit for the laser shooter, I swear,” one of the predators remarks. “That thing tried to kill us; it was self-defense.”

“Magpies are a protected species! It’s mating season, didn’t you read the sign?”

My chest plumage puffs with pride as she points to a placard officially declaring this my territory. Too right it is.

The others protest. “It tried to kill us.”

Tree-bark woman places her hands on her hips. “Doesn’t matter, it’s protected. You lot are coming with me.”

A grumble of complaint wafts from the trail of defeated hostiles as I warble out a cry of triumph.
“I told you we shouldn’t have come in peace.”