There are fears for the safety of children in a town after a woman claimed a bird of prey swooped down and tried to grab her chihuahua. The bird, which she said was a buzzard or red kite, apparently bombarded the woman’s small pet.
She says the incident happened at New Road Park, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, on June 14. The woman says the bird dove on her Pomeranian mix Chihuahua, which was on a leash at the time.
She says she saved the dog from the alleged attack and rushed to defend it and took cover until the bird flew away. Posting online, she said: “He spun a few times then dove but couldn’t get the right angle.
“Then he was about to start again so she hid but it was very close to her. He had his claws ready to grab and [my daughter] too scared to take his dog out now.”
The local resident fears small domestic animals in the area are at risk, but is also worried about the risk to young children – advising people not to feed them. Other locals disputed the incident, saying the birds of prey would never go after a dog.
But the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says it’s possible for a bird of prey to attack dogs or humans in an effort to protect its chicks. “Although it is very rare for a bird of prey to approach people, they are wild animals that can be startled and try to warn people to stay away if they feel threatened, by especially if they have chicks nearby,” a spokesperson said.
Adding that: “Some red kites are also less fearful of humans over the years as people feed them in their gardens. If the red kites are acting defensively, we recommend avoiding the area for a while. some time to give the chicks a chance to leave the nest, and we also urge people not to feed the red kites – these amazing birds travel a long way to get their food, and with their keen eyesight they rarely have to hard to find it.
Last year, in Henley-on-Thames, Oxon., a two-year-old boy was bloodied when a red kite dived to grab his biscuit. In 2020, red kites attacked people attending barbecues in Watlington, Oxon., causing a local elementary school to advise parents not to eat out.
The incident sparked outrage on social media, with most locals saying a bird of prey would never try to catch a dog. A local said: “We have at least eight breeding pairs here – they have no choice but to ‘catch’ live prey, but I don’t worry for a minute about my dogs.”
“He was hunting for a possible predator near his nest, not looking for lunch. Just avoid that area,” added another. A man backed up the woman’s claims, saying: ‘Do we all forget a few years ago a seagull took a chihuahua away, it was all over the papers and the dog was never found… “
Others agreed it was possible and told their own stories of vicious bird encounters. “Kites definitely want to fly little hairs…when my dog was a pup we regularly had kites circling above the garden watching them,” wrote another.
One Swindon resident said: ‘It’s an annual event in my garden. They caught a neighbour’s chicken once!’
Another added: “We were in Medmenham for the Jubilee and the red kites were landing alongside us and others at the site.
“We were told to keep all food and small dogs off site as a few weeks before they stole food from barbecues and also tried to attack a small dog.”