June in Chicago means hot dogs, art fairs—and angry red-winged blackbirds that fly out of the brush and swoop at your head.
“Reports [of attacks] are increasing… within the area of Lincoln Park and other more rural areas of the city,” DNAinfo Chicago reports. As ornithologist Josh Engel explains to the outlet, violent birds are generally protecting their nests, which by this time of year are bursting with chicks.
“They are highly territorial,” Engel says, and will fly at pretty much anything that seems threatening, from fellow birds to hapless joggers.
It’s not just Chicago blackbirds that tend to rush people—over the years, angry birds have made news after dive-bombing hikers in Indiana, car rental employees in Missouri, Parliamentarians in Ottawa, and an equally aggressive moose in Colorado.
But there does seem to be something about the Windy City that particularly riles them up. One Grant Park jogger was attacked at least five times last year, and told CBS Local that a bird got stuck in her ponytail. And a 60-year-old woman just sued a Chicago hospital for failing to warn passers-by about “vicious” birds on the premises, which she says knocked her down.
If a bird is coming after you, experts have just one suggestion: look it dead in the eyes. Good luck out there.
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