There are fears for child safety in a Wiltshire town after a woman claimed a bird of prey swooped and tried to grab – her Chihuahua. The bird, which she says was a buzzard or red kite, apparently dive-bombed the woman’s small pet.
She says the incident happened in New Road Park, Royal Wootton Bassett on June 14. The woman says the bird swooped on her Pomeranian cross chihuahua, that was on a lead 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 off.
Posting online, she said: “It circled a couple of times then swooped but couldn’t get the right angle. Then it was just about to do it again so she hid but it was very close to her. He had his claws out ready to grab and [my daughter] is too scared to take her dog out now.”
Read more – School ordered to improve now rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted
The local resident fears small pets in the area could be at risk but is equally worried about the risk to small children – advising people not to feed them. Other locals have disputed the incident, claiming birds of prey would never go for a dog.
But the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says it’s possible a bird of prey would attack dogs or humans in a bid to protect its chicks. “Although it is very rare for a bird of prey to come close to people, they are wild animals and can become startled and try and warn people to stay away if they feel threatened, particularly if they have chicks nearby”, a spokesperson said.
Adding that: “Some individual red kites have also become less scared of humans over the years due to people feeding them in their gardens.
“If red kites are acting defensively we’d recommend avoiding the area for a time to give any chicks a chance to leave the nest, and we also strongly urge people not to feed red kites – these amazing birds travel far and wide to get their food, and with their keen eyesight they rarely have any problem finding it.”
Last year, in Henley-on-Thames, Oxon., a two-year-old boy was left bloodied when a red kite swooped to grab his biscuit. In 2020, red kites attacked people attending barbecues in Watlington, Oxon., forcing a local primary school to advise parents not to eat outside.
The incident has sparked outrage on social media, with most residents claiming a bird of prey would never attempt to grab a dog. One local said: “We have eight breeding pairs at least around here – they have no choice but to ‘catch’ live prey but I don’t ever for one minute worry about my dogs.”
“It was chasing off a possible predator near its nest, not looking for lunch. Just avoid that area”, another added.
One man supported the woman’s claims, saying: “Are we all forgetting a few years ago a seagull took a chihuahua away it was in all the papers and the dog was never found…”
Others agreed it was possible, and told their own stories of encounters with vicious birds.
“Kites definitely have the want to steal small furries…when my dog was a puppy, we routinely had kites circling above the garden watching them”, another wrote.
One Swindon resident said: “This is a yearly occurrence in my garden. Once they grabbed a neighbour’s chicken!” Another added: “We were in Medmenham for the Jubilee and the Red Kites were landing next to us and others on the site. We were told to keep all food and small dogs out of site as a few weeks before they had stolen food off of BBQs and also tried to attack a small dog.”
You can stay up to date on the top news near you with Wiltshire Live’s FREE newsletters – enter your email address at the top of the page or sign up to our newsletters.
Contact us with your news stories, pictures or information, or comment below with your view. In Your Area has news and events tailored to the postcode where you live.
More from Wiltshire Live: