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A red kite swoops in the sky Stephen Wilson/PA Archive/Press Association Images via PA Images
flying lunch

'Sorry teacher, a bird ate my lunch'

Birds of prey swooping in on children’s lunches at English school leads to ban on schoolyard munching.

WE’VE HEARD OF that old chestnut – ‘Sorry teacher, a dog ate my homework!’ but what about a bird eating your lunch?

Though children’s school lunches aren’t known for being culinary delights, in one school in Oxfordshire, England, local birds of prey have taken a liking to pupils’ sandwiches and chocolate bars – with the result that the children are being banned from eating outdoors.

The Telegraph reports that one boy from Icknield Community College in Watlington, Oxon, needed a tetanus jab after being “slashed on the arm”.

Red kites are part of the Accipitridae family, which also includes eagles and buzzards. They are rare species that have a wingspan of 5ft.

The birds are scavengers that usually live on small mammals such as mice and rabbits. But, it appears, they also have a taste for sausage rolls.

One pupil told the paper that the birds “swarm around while we’re eating and swoop down to grab the food out of our hands”. Another described the birds’ claws as “terrifying”.

Now the pupils have to eat indoors at lunchtime in case the red kites take a fancy to their homemade nibbles.

While some are calling for a cull of the birds – which were extinct in England by the end of the 19th century – RSPB conservation officer Colin Wilkinson said that the red kites “are a tremendous success story” and that “most people are delighted to see them back”.

For more information read this story in today’s The Telegraph>