Children in Oxfordshire have been warned not to play in school playgrounds during lunch and break times after large red kites have caused havoc by stealing their lunches and attacking them.
According to the Telegraph, pupil Joe Biggins, 16, explained, “Red kites come and swarm around everyone when they’re eating.”
One student at Icknield Community College, Watlington, Oxon, needed a tetanus jab after being slashed on the arm by one of the great creatures.
With an average wingspan of 5ft, red kites usually feed on animals as large as moles and small rabbits. So it’s not surprising that children are fearful of them. One young girl even remarked that while they’re “beautiful birds”, seeing their outstretched claws is “terrifying”.
With the number of attacks increasing, farmers, the public and RAF have insisted the birds should be removed.
These birds of prey were extinct in England in 1871, but after being reintroduced to the Chilterns in the 1990s they’ve made a shockingly successful comeback.
Breeding pairs of kites have increased by 130% since 2010 and now number more than 2,000 a 2011 RSPB survey has revealed.
Despite the harm these birds have caused, Colin Wilkinson, conservation officer for the Oxfordshire RSPB believes the majority are “delighted” to have red kites back as part of the Oxfordshire bird community.
He spoke out, suggesting that while they’re a bit scary up close, they’re “big, spectacular birds” and a story such as this should to be responded to with “thought and care”.