Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Redwing Blackbird Attacks!

When most people go out to ride 50 miles on a day when the heat index is around 100 degrees they may have certain fears. They may fear the excessive loss of sweat due to the heat, they may fear the cars roaring by them, they may fear the distance of the ride...what I fear is the same thing I fear on every ride...attacks from redwing blackbirds! I remember watching Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 movie, "The Birds" way back in 6th grade...yes I'm sure it had some kind of scientific value my teacher related to the 6th grade curriculum in 1992. What I thought was simply a science fiction movie is turning out to be very truthful. These birds are out for blood!

I was hit 3 more times today bringing my summer total to 7 hits...all on the back of the helmet. These birds are vicious! They sit atop the telephone lines (I wish they would get shocked to death for this but can't figure out whey they don't) or in the grass right near the road and they wait for me to ride by every day. The birds like to wait until I've gone by them and then they take off hovering overhead until they dive bomb right at me with one thing in mind...blood! Now, I'm typically a very humanitarian kind of guy...but right now I wouldn't mind if these dang things would all go up in smoke in an instant. I find myself turning around on the ride making crazy barking noises trying to fend them off when they are hovering overhead but that rarely does any good. When you stare them down for a period of time in most cases they will fly away but turning around while riding at 20+ mph to stare them down isn't the most safe thing to do. My thoughts are continually of Dr. Dave Juehring who was knocked off his bike last year when one of these things dove right into his face while he was riding near my house. Dr. Juehring's recovery has been a long one.

From what I've read these birds are very vicious this time of year because they are nesting in the ditches near the sides of the roads. What I don't understand is that I've never for a second thought about getting off my bike to go take out one of their nests. I'm not sure why they feel some guy riding by their nest on a bike is a threat to the nests when there has probably never been an instance of a rider stopping to attack the bird nests. One of my training buddies, Jared Dammann, summed it up best when he said, "When I put my helmet on to go ride I feel like I'm putting a helmet on in preparation of going to battle...battle with the birds." The birds like to chirp in my ear and then let out a loud screech before they come dive bombing into my helmet. I know where most of the "danger" spots on my ride are but every once in awhile they will come out of nowhere to attack. I write this post as a warning to all riders in Scott County...beware of the birds...and if you get a chance to take one out, by all means please do!


coolhand400 said...

Don't worry Rock Island has it's share of these evil creatures from the sky. Best advice ever given to me on them is to hold your hand up in the air if you hear them coming....and believe me, I know the caw of these birds very well. My brain and body automatically go into defensive mode when I hear it. But the idea with the hand is that the birds attack the highest point on your body. Usually the head unless you have a biking or running style that's I've yet to see. Anyway, if you hold your hand above your head they will target that instead. And since it's a much smaller and more of a moving target they have yet to actually hit my hand....or my head for that matter. But it's not from a lack of them trying.
Is it legal to carry a small firearm while riding a bike?

Luke C

Nicholas said...

you need to check out tim bedoers Animal Conspiracy I think you will get a kick out of it.

Nick said...

haha...i got attacked by a red-winged blackbird about 2 months ago while i was on my run. i used to run on that road about 5 days a week for a month, without getting attacked. after i got attacked, i chose a different route. today i decided to run back down that same road because i figured the breeding season was over. i was wrong. i got attacked by 2 birds, and the funniest thing was a cop was driving by when it happened. he stopped and told me the bird swooped down at me. i hate those things, and wish they would all die.

Patrick S Campbell said...

The last two rides I've taken south of Iowa City have resulted in being attacked by these birds. The first time I wasn't clipped in, but this last go I came close to riding into the ditch.

I am curious how the remidy this? Does anyone have tactics? I've considered a mirror on the top of my helment

Chad said...

I hope this finds friendly company that won't incriminate me. I actually was so sick last year of them, that I took my dad's pellet gun out of my retractable moon roof and went out on my countryside ride and shot at 'em. I just didn't care.

I've been curious to try mace or something, I dunno.

Two consolations: finishing your ride before 9 AM, and the fact that they seem to stop this behavior sometime in mid-July.

Lastly--y'all should check out for a RAGBRAI in a day ride.