Nature is taking a Hitchcockian turn.
In Hitchcock's classic movie The Birds, feathered fiends terrorize a California town, pecking out eyes and attempting to murder every human in sight. It's quite the horror fantasy tale ... or is it?
Well, yes, it is. Sort of. While birds these days aren't out to murder you, they certainly are prepared to defend their territory from passers-by, and cases of aggressive birds are being reported more often. That's pretty much our fault.
According to officials, humans are traveling more and more into bird habitats, and it's setting up more and more standoffs with our feathered friends. Particularly aggressive are birds that are caring for young, which commonly occurs in June and July. Hell hath no fury like a mama bird.
"The increase we're seeing is because we're encroaching on bird habitats. So there are more bird-human interactions," Andrea Jones, the director of bird conservation for the California chapter of environmental organisation National Audubon Society told BBC.com.
For anyone who has had a bird dive-bomb you, you know the feeling of slight panic. Maybe you were also a victim of the bird body slam upside your head, or if very unlucky, a clawing and pecking flurry. While these types of attacks rarely cause serious injury, you certainly won't forget that relentless beak coming for you.
Imagine this chasing you, courtesy of our friends in Australia (a somewhat oldie but a goodie—Australia calls its bird nesting period "swooping season"):
This slow-mo video of a magpie swooping a cyclist three times is both amazing and terrifying at the same time 😱🚴— ABC Brisbane (@abcbrisbane) September 11, 2018
📹: Luke Berkelmans pic.twitter.com/ZiGrENok9a
Denver, in particular, has a dive-bombing red-winged blackbird problem in area parks. In 2019, the feathered foes made a splashy headline on several news outlets for their attacks on joggers and other park visitors.
This is also a trend on the rise across the nation, as well as across the globe. A GIS website in Canada, CrowTrax, was started purely as a place for people to report crow attacks. It's had over 5,000 reports.
So, what can you do? Avoiding nesting bird areas is your best choice. Apart from that, you are sort of on your own. Birds will attack the tallest object in the area it perceives as dangerous, so you might try carrying an open umbrella. Waving your arms in the air might also work to deter the dive-bombing denizens (or it might just piss them off, but hey, at least you tried). Remember, that most birds will attack from behind, so watch your back.
You can give this a try.
Mostly, it just comes down to respect. Respect a bird's space and heed the warning screeches, and you are likely to be on your way without a beak in your face. But if they do start swooping, protect your head and move out of the area as quickly as you can.
Have you had a run-in this year with a defensive bird? Let us know in the comments below!