I watched the most hysterical thing I've seen in a long, long time this week. I met a friend for lunch, and we sat outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. From our vantage point outside our building, we were able to watch a homicidal red-winged blackbird "defend" its territory from intruders--unsuspecting passers-by!!
Apparently red-winged blackbirds are migratory animals, and they fiercely defend their nests. This particular bird made national news last year when he roughed up employees for several weeks all along one stretch of road between a large parking lot and the building. The tree from which he made these attacks was promptly cut down when the fledgling birds left the nest and the attacks abated. This year, the family has chosen a Tree just up the road from their previous roost, and they're up to the same old antics. The Tree is just outside a parking deck, near a rather large, busy intersection where many employees must cross in order to get between their vehicles and work.
As my friend and I watched, this not-so-small bird attacked a half-dozen people or so! He bombed one group of people (two men and a woman), hitting one of the men in the back of the head, before swooping down and attacking the woman. The man took it rather in stride, but the woman ran, screaming, for the side of the road, not realizing she was only running closer to the bird's territory. We laughed out loud.
Shortly, another man walked by, heading across the street towards the fated Tree. The bird, who had perched on top of the stoplight at this point, swooped down and hit the man in the back of the head, then swooped again and hit him squarely between his shoulder blades. The man took off at a lope across the street, and the bird chased him the whole way and halfway down the block, around the corner from the Tree. We laughed harder!
A woman emerged from the parking deck to cross the road. Apparently she tired of waiting for the light to change, so she decided to meander down the street along the side of the parking deck. As she neared the Tree, the bird went into fight-and-flight-mode. We're not really sure what this woman had been imbibing, but she took her time, looking at the flowers next to the Tree, hardly even noticing the poor bird doing his best to get her AWAY! She finally wandered off, down the street, leaving the bird in peace. We really didn't understand if this woman was crazy or just didn't care that she was really upsetting this bird... very strange.
Before we could wonder too much, another man appeared at the corner next to the Tree. He, too, tired of waiting for the light to change and took off down the sidewalk, past the Tree. As he passed underneath it, the bird came flying, hitting the man in the back of the head and flying away. The man stopped and turned, hands on his hips, to confront his attacker. Only the bird was nowhere to be found. The man resumed his course only to be attacked again. Again, he stopped and turned, hands back on his hips, ready for a confrontation. He saw the bird hopping around on the ground at this point, but he didn't appear to put it together. This scenario played out 4 or 5 times before the man finally reached a small, wooden barricade across the sidewalk (from the wrong side, of course) that boasted a sign warning pedestrians about the attacking bird. He read this sign, hands back on his hips, looked up at the tree in disgust, and promptly turned back around and stomped away. We almost fell off of our seats laughing at that one!
It was quite obvious whether the people crossing at this intersection were aware of the bird. Those who were familiar with the risks associated with this particular corner approached with great caution, constantly keeping an eye to the sky, making sure to know at all times where the bird was located. Many actually went out of their way to avoid being anywhere near the bird's "territory," which spanned the width of the 4-lane road one way and across the 2 lane road the other. Those poor, unsuspecting pedestrians who hadn't heard or hadn't heeded the warnings about this raging red-wing were caught completely unawares by the attacks.
I have never in my life seen anything like this, but it was a highly entertaining way to spend my lunch hour!