|Red arrows pointing to the feathered bastards of Doom|
"Would-be predators" includes folks riding bicycles, by the way. I can not say that Red Winged Blackbirds have very good powers of discernment, they just seem ticked off 24-7. So, whether or not you mean their nestlings any harm, they are comin' after ya, and they won't quit until they feel you've 'moved on' enough that the next Red Winged Blackbird takes over, and the chain can go on for miles, actually.
Now, I will say that many times you won't even notice them, but don't be fooled! They are watching you, and you are a target. Much of the time it is about wind speed and direction, since conditions have to be just right for their attacks to be successful. However; during the dog-days of mid to late Summer, these conditions are common, and depending upon where you live, you are going to get harassed by these devils in feathered suits. Make no mistake. I believe these so-called birds are really cowardly demons of the dusty paths. Well.........not really, but ask me when I'm hot and bothered while being attacked by one of these birds and I might just have that opinion at the time!
So, after dealing with a particularly aggressive population of these rascals last Saturday, I thought about what I do to thwart them and strategies I might be able to pass along to you if these birds seem to be a bother.
|Red Winged Blackbird. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)|
Next, you can learn about the Red Winged Blackbird's breeding habits and how the males are VERY protective and territorial. They have been observed harassing hawks and eagles, fearlessly dive-bombing any would-be predator for long distances until the threat has been chased away. So, you are dealing with one ornery, stubborn bird of great perseverance.
The length of the breeding season, May to August, pretty much guarantees you'll have some encounters with this bird at some point. So, what do you do? I've listed, in no particular order, some things I do when I encounter these threats to my peace of mind.
But first- There is one key thing I have learned about these birds. I always thought they were fearless, aggressive, and a bird that would take on any challenger. That's not at all true. These birds are cowards of the highest order. In fact, they only attack you from behind and will cower and fly away if you make eye contact with them. So, with that in mind.....
- If at all possible, make eye contact with the bird. This is difficult, yes. They like to hover above and behind your head. I have found that even just turning your head around as far as you can, without crashing, of course, will send the blighters packing. But if you can look your attacker in the eye, they will not dive bomb you. They will immediately pull up and often will turn tail and fly away.
- Use their shadows to assess when they are close. I have used this technique to ascertain when to do some of the following things.....
- - First: To wave my hand about my head. When I feel one of these birds is close, a waving motion of the hand about my head will send them off.
- - Second: A water bottle squirt. Assuming I have copious amounts of water, or access to more, I will use the shadow on the road to assess when to assault the flying devils with a blast of water. This seems pretty effective.
- -Third: The Dogfight Move: This is my favorite if I am alone. I simply swerve when they dive. It's fun when you get the timing down right.
- Now on to a couple more strategies. First is speed. I have found that Red Winged Blackbirds usually won't bother with you at speeds over 16-17mph and at 20mph you'll never notice them. It takes far too much effort and time for them to draw a bead on a fast moving target.
- Finally- You may have to stop and stand your ground. Red Winged Blackbirds can sometimes mob a would-be predator. This means several males attacking at once. I had this happen Saturday. When this occurs, the best thing you can do is stop, get off your bike, get loud and wave your arms around. This scares the birds and typically they will fly off after a few moments and you'll be able to continue.
Thinking about how these birds don't like seeing your eyes, I wonder what would happen if I painted some big ol' eyeballs on the backside of my helmet? Hmm....... Anyway- I hope this helps. What do you do when these pesky birds get frisky with you?