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Red Winged Black Bird-On the Attack
The Red Winged Black Bird looks harmless but looks can be deceiving! I have such a bird living in my backyard and raising his family in the cattails at the edge of my lake. Why they build their nest so low to the ground is beyond me but I will say he is ever vigilant and attacks me whenever I attempt to pull weeds or plant flowers in my berm.
I have felt him graze my back and have heard the flapping of his wings so close to my ears that I was certain he was going to land on my head! Yesterday I decided to take a bright yellow rubber kneeling pad for gardeners to the berm with me. I waved it over my head the whole time I was working out there.
I'm sure I looked liked a lunatic (and my arm was pretty achy) but it worked! He stayed on the branch and did one of his irritating danger calls continuously but he didn't attack me.
The Red Winged Black Bird
- The male Red Winged Black Bird is about 8 inches long and weighs about 2 ounces.
- He's black with a red shoulder patch bordered below by a yellow stripe on his wings.
- The female has a brown streaky coat and is much more dowdy looking.
- These birds migrate south for the winter and return in the spring.
- As it turns out the male is polygamus and has up to 10 females that he mates with!
- He may have up to five nests in a small area that he is hovering around and protecting.
- They are attracted to bodies of water, low lying marshes and bogs and that's where they build their nests.
- By mid-June their nests have been settled and that's when the attacks begin.
Red Winged Black Bird Attacks in the City of Chicago
Apparently the attacks in the City of Chicago are worse than those in the suburban areas. They are attacking city workers and pedestrians walking down Michigan Avenue.
There is a particularly aggressive bird that has been nick-named "Hitchcock" after "The Birds" director. One woman walking down a Chicago street said "Hitchcock" flew down, pecked her head, grabbed her hair and flew away. She said many of her co-workers found a new route home or wear a helmet if they need to pass the territory he's guarding.
The Red Winged Black Birds are swooping down and pecking at Bikers and Joggers along Lake Michigan Shores. People need to be watchful in the parks and around ponds.
I was reading a cyclists' forum where people were discussing ways to thwart the attacks so they could concentrate on riding safely. One person suggested sticking "eyes" on the back of their helmet because the Red Winged Black Bird only attacks from the back but would be less likely to attack if the helmet was "looking at him". From what I have read those are words of wisdom.
Do Not Engage in the Attack!
For anyone considering engaging in the attack, that is out of the question. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Intentionally causing harm to a Red Winged Black Bird can bring with it a fine of $250,000.00 and up to 2 years incarceration on a felony conviction!
A few words of advice from a conservation Ornithologist at the Field Museum: If targeted by a Red Winged Black Bird, stare directly into it's eyes. If that fails, bark like a dog and that should keep the bird at bay.
Of course you could just avoid their territories all together!
The Red Winged Black Bird is now Attacking my Cat!!
I have an update on this crazy bird: He is now ignoring me completely and has turned his aggressions toward my cat!
He's been swooping down on Oscar and chasing him onto the deck. He then perches on a Tiki torch within a couple of feet of him and does his danger calls while the cat answers with meows. It's irritating but at the same time rather humorous! The only place Oscar can find refuge is under the paddle boat.