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Bird on the engine cowl of 737-800, refuses to move, and delays flight

Bird on the engine cowl of 737-800, refuses to move, and delays flight

Not a care in the world. Probably enjoying warm feet in this 11ºC (52ºF) Adelaide winter day.


I was on a standard commercial Qantas flight (QF764) yesterday (Wednesday) returning to Sydney from Adelaide, Australia. We had reversed from the gate, but were pausing before our turn to reach the runway.

I was sitting in an aisle seat exit row (row 14) on the left hand side of the plane, when I realised there was a lot of chatter and mobile (cell) phone cameras being deployed.

A ‘Maggie’ – Australian slang for Magpie (actually the Piping Shrike – the emblematic bird on the state flag of South Australia) was perched on the end of the left hand engine cowl.

One of the passengers reported it to the cabin staff.  We started our taxi to the runway, and the captain noticeably revved the engine and braked several times, but soon we came to a stop. Next the captain came on the PA to announce that in ‘more than 30 years of flying . . .’ he had never seen this happen, and due to the concern about the bird being sucked into the engine on takeoff, if it didn’t fly off before hand, the Airport safety detail was being called, and we might suffer a small delay.

Much chat and socialising and sharing of phones and photo snapping and banter of charging fees for the images etc etc ensued.

I didn’t have a window seat, so couldn’t see exactly what was happening, but after a small further delay, our Piping Shrike decided to wing it, and we were on our way.

Scheduled departure was at 3:50pm We ended up departing around 4:15pm.

The shots of the intrepid bird were taken by the gentleman in 13A. Many thanks to him, and the other passengers who relayed my photographic request.

a bird standing on a plane
You can rev that engine all you want, and stop and start, but I’m staying here! Piping Shrike on engine cowl, QF 764, 737-800 Adelaide to Sydney 27 July 2016.

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