Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Red-wing Blackbird MENACE!!!!

Angry bird
From Robin of Illinois--
Dive-Bombing Bird Becomes SF Attraction
SAN FRANCISCO -- A territorial blackbird that has been dive-bombing pedestrians for weeks is continuing to attract a crowd in downtown SanFrancisco.

Dozens of people spent their lunch breaks at the corner of California and Front streets watching the blackbird, nicknamed "Swoops" by a local blogger,attack passersby.Catherine Phillips, 32, who works nearby, was startled by what felt like a pebble dropping on her head.When the crowd burst into laughter, she realized what had happened and laughed herself."I was wondering what everyone was staring at," she said. "It's just a little reminder not to walk by her nest.

"It's the Financial District's version of the Bush Man at Fisherman's Wharf,who hides behind a fake bush and jumps out to startle pedestrians. But in the bird's case, most passersby know what to expect.

Bart Robinson, 34, who also works in the neighborhood, thought he would try his luck and walk down Swoops' stretch of sidewalk. Swoops wasn't having it. Robinson had called his mother in Utah and was on the phone with her during the attack.

"It's kind of like a thrill ride you go through and you hope that he gets you," Robinson said. "It's exhilarating."The bird presides over the sidewalk from a metal awning outside City National Bank and seems particularly intolerant of balding men and those with short, dark hair.

Debora Vrana, spokeswoman for City National Bank, said the bird has not impacted the bank except that "several of our employees have been swooped."Vrana said it "doesn't seem like a vicious bird, just protective."The attacks started a few weeks ago, said Andy Azadnia and Josh Johnson,whose female coworker at a nearby Wachovia Bank had been targeted."She was probably one of the first ever," Johnson said. "Now, two weeks later the bird is famous."

Indeed, the bird has made national and international headlines, with a paper in the U.K. Claiming it is "terrorizing" workers. Video of the attacks has been on CNN.

The attacks inspired a blog which nicknamed the bird and provides frequent updates and pictures. At one point this afternoon the crowd watched with bated breath as Swoops eyed an elderly woman in a green pantsuit who walked down the sidewalk with a cane, seemingly oblivious to the situation.She was not attacked.

"That is amazing," one man said. "She made it through the whole thing."Vicky Guldbech, a captain with San Francisco Animal Care and Control, said the swooping behavior is "what blackbirds do every year at this time, but we've never focused on one particular one like we are this year."

Guldbech cautioned against people who might try to harass or incite the bird"We would be concerned about that type of behavior," she said. "We would encourage people to call animal control if that's happening, illegal to harass or harm these animals."


I'm not completely sure if this is an adult or one of the fledglings. Someone pulled up to ask what I was looking at...

...and the top of the pole was empty. An adult RT was flying the far treeline.

First one way, than the other. Either to more easily acquire elevation or as a decoy to cover for their progeny?

BECAUSE??? Enter Mr. Red-winged Blackbird in the cornfield-- And he not only has an overabundance of testostorone but I think he has fledglings of his own to protect and care for.

Speaking of progeny, suddenly one of the young hawks crash lands in the uppermost branches. Crash, flap...flap...flap. He/she is on the top of the tree far right.
Mr. RWB goes for the struggling lander---

And an adult M soars in to fly interference for the fledgling.

Exuberant with his "success", Mr. RWB has a celebratory flight and heads back to his patch of cornfield.

He isn't eating, he's just walking a circuit, looking butch.

The Crash Lander has managed to make it to the nest. Though not without being buzzed by Mr. RWB a few , more times on the way.

He's back in the cornfield strutting his stuff.

Now to a pond not far away. Golly, look at the Red-winged Blackbird go.

He heads for the Egrets across the water and the two big guys flee from the little guy.

The Egrets choose the better part of valor and take to their big white wings.
In the meantime two pair of Canada Geese and their just about grown goslings, quite the crew, take to the water and look on.
Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

Speaking of cornfields, I've noticed that birds, esp. robins, are hanging out in my vegetable garden, which I expanded considerably this year, having had it rototilled, in preference to hanging out in the lawn. Are they looking for worms? bugs? Nothing's fruited (vegetabled(?) yet, so it's not that.

Sally said...

Donna! You must be having such fun now watching the M's. I enjoy reading about them. Glad they are doing well!

Donegal Browne said...

Karen Anne,

Yes your Robins are looking for those tasty animal proteins. When the Europeans arrived on the continent the American Robin was a rather rare bird of short grass meadows and disturbed earth. The shorter the grass the better to see those creepy crawlies. It was American's fixation on lawns that caused their population to explode.

Robins hunt by sight. They aren't "listening" as you may have been told as a child when they cock their heads while gleaning, but rather are looking for worms. And what better place could their be than nice rototilled soil.

The Robins in Wisconsin always become extremely interested when I water the garden. I suspect as it does when it rains, that the water from the hose causes the earthworms to rise to the surface of the soil, making them ever so much easier to grab.

Donegal Browne said...


Watching the young Ms has been a wonderful experience. As we know watching eyasses grow is always wonderful endearing fun when all goes well, but in this case it was immensely enlightening to see how behavior manifested in urban nests that never quite made perfect sense in the city, makes perfect sense for evolutionary survival advantage when the behavior takes place in the environment in which it evolved.