LIVING in Australia it would be hard to find a person who hasn't heard the whooshing by of a magpie as they swoop down - a warning signal to those who dare come near.
For some, it can be terrifying. Others, not phased.
Across the Wimmera there have been reports of swooping magpies already - in just the first week of spring.
One resident, wanted to warn others to be on the look out and try to avoid areas where magpies could be.
Horsham's Claudia Schodde was walking her puppy near the end of Rose Street in a grass area - a track she's walked many times, almost every day.
"I've seen magpies there before and it is spring time so I guess it is a guarantee you are going to get swooped sometime," she said.
"I just didn't expect what was to come. It's the first time that I've been swooped this year."
The bird made contact with Ms Schodde's head - a scratch none the less but plenty of blood was found.
"I wasn't in pain when it happened, probably had adrenaline running through my body," she said.
"I was in shock. I had to catch my breath. I have been swooped by a plover before - they are quite vicious but not like this from a magpie.
"The magpie swooped me three to four times - I think it was the third time it made contact with my head.
"Walking home I touched my head and saw there was blood and I just freaked. It was more the shock. It all happened very quickly.
"I was just concerned about keeping my puppy away from it because she's only young and I was a bit nervous something was going to happen to her.
"She's a little fox terrier - ironically her name is Maggie as well."
A five-month-old girl was killed on August 8 when her mother tripped and fell as a magpie attacked them in a Brisbane park.
Ms Schodde said she could understand how something like that could happen after her ordeal with the magpie.
"You don't think about anything happening to you while you are out going for a walk and enjoying the sunshine," she said.
"You can be caught just so unaware."
The magpie swooping season has no official start and finish but when the signs are there, the troublesome birds are back at what many Australians find one of the most annoying parts of the season.
Despite more than 13 million Australians currently living under stay-home orders, authorities sent out an early bird swooping warning with less than two weeks left of winter.
Magpies and masked lapwings are among the nation's native birds known to swoop during breeding season to defend their nesting young for six to eight weeks after hatching.
But Rebecca Dixon, a senior wildlife management officer at Victoria's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, said less than 10 per cent of swooping birds follow through.
"Swooping by a territorial bird is actually normal bird behaviour, although it's definitely not fun for their targets," she said in a statement.
"Birds may swoop people or animals, so be mindful of your pets too."
Despite most swooping birds rarely making contact, cyclists, runners and walkers are reminded that their reactions can make the situation worse.
Ms Dixon said swooping targets should remain as calm as possible, even as the fear-inducing sounds of swooshing, screeching and beak-clapping draw nearer.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Wimmera Mail-Times, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling your stories. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.