I have an irrational fear of birds. It may have started when I was very young and watched Alfred Hitchock’s The Birds (a movie that I know so well that I can quote whole lines from it). I’m not really sure but I know I’m suspicious of them. They swoop too closely to my head (especially in the city) and some of them stare at you a little too long to be normal. Some of them won’t move out of the way when you’re walking on the sidewalk. Anyway, I don’t like birds (though strangely enough I like bird patterns and prints and other bird designs etc. I just don’t like them much in real life!).
My fear got worse when I lived in Australia and found out that there is a 6-8 week period of time when magpies become overly protective of their young and attack humans who they deem threatening or too close to their territory. I spent a lot of time in Australia staring suspiciously at magpies, even after the 6-8 week period ended. If you stare at them they won’t attack you. One of the solutions for avoiding a magpie attack is to wear a hat with googly eyes in the back of the head so they don’t attack while you’re not looking. I’m not joking.
Now that it’s spring, I’m free to run to my heart’s content on all of my old trails again. But with that, comes the threat of the red-winged blackbird. These small beautiful birds are everywhere (especially on my running trails).
Last year at around this time, Dan and I were running on one of our favourite trails. As usual Dan was ahead of me (since he’s faster). All of a sudden I saw a red-winged blackbird fly from a nearby tree, swoop down at Dan, claw his head (he was wearing a hat) and fly back up. Dan turned and looked at me in shock right after it happened. At this point I hadn’t run past the tree where the red-winged blackbird was yet so I stopped in my tracks. I could see it perched in the tree, waiting for me. After some hesitation I ran as fast as I could past the tree, feeling panicked that the bird was swooping at my head. I turned slightly and there it was and I screamed so loudly that a cyclist up ahead turned around to see what was going on. The bird was scared off by my scream (that’s what I’d like to believe anyway) and flew back to its tree, waiting for its next victim. I spent the rest of the spring and summer running on the trails while barking like a dog, because I read somewhere that that will keep red-winged blackbirds from attacking. I must have looked and sounded ridiculous.
I actually knew what a red-winged blackbird was because one of my friends was attacked by one the year before while she was out walking her dog. She googled it and we talked about ways to keep the bird from attacking (including barking like a dog). A few months later my brother was attacked by a red-winged blackbird while he walked to work. When I told him my theory, he said that the bird just seemed confused. The next day he saw the bird, perched in a tree, watching two girls walk by. When my brother walked past it the bird swooped at him again. Finally he agreed that it was indeed a red-winged blackbird. I read somewhere that once the bird targets you, that particular bird will always attack you.
Shortly before my own red-winged blackbird attack, I heard about runners in Ottawa getting attacked as well.
I love this video because it shows what happened to us. I also find it really amusing and keep laughing at it. Dan says it’s not funny when a red-winged blackbird attacks (and that’s true. At the time it was not funny). But it is kind of funny to watch it happen to someone else! Plus I feel like I’m allowed to laugh now. I know exactly what those runners are going through.
Now that we’re back on the trails and the red-winged blackbirds are back will we get attacked again? Will the same bird really target us? And more importantly, will I resort to barking like a dog while I’m out running? I’ll keep you posted.