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Crow attack season is upon Vancouver; expert shares tips on avoiding dive-bombing birds

Last Updated Jun 10, 2021 at 12:02 pm PDT

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Summary

Professor at the University of Washington says crows remember the faces of people they've perceived as a threat before

He says the birds can remember you even if you wear a mask since they memorize other characteristics about you

Best ways to avoid them: take a different route, carry an umbrella, or make eye contact with the bird

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s crow attack season in Vancouver, and if you’ve been dive-bombed before, you might be a bit anxious walking down certain streets.

John Marzluff, Professor of Wildlife Sciences at the University of Washington, warns these birds will likely remember faces they’ve perceived as a threat in the past, and your face mask doesn’t necessarily exempt you from another attack.

“If you wore a mask, the first time they interacted with you, then they would recognize that mask, that person, that face, as the threat and respond more to it in the future,” he explains. “But if you’ve already walked by without a mask on, they’re going to know your face. They keep track of several people.”

However, there is one mask that might help — a Halloween mask.

“Stick it on the back of your head, so it looks like you have two faces basically as you go by, and then the birds are not going to have that blind spot to come in from; they’re going to see a face wherever they look. And I think that will put them off as well.”

Since crows are likely to swoop by you from behind, Marzluff adds you can try to maintain eye contact or carry an umbrella.

Lastly, the worst thing you can do, according to Marzluff, is to touch or move a young or dead crow when other crows are present.

“They will definitely recognize you as dangerous in that respect even if you’re doing a good thing. They see it as a threat to them, to their offspring, or to other birds. So really avoid doing that.”

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If a bird flies near you, it’s good to keep in mind they’re unlikely to strike you.

“If they do, you might get a scratch, but “it’s not a life-threatening thing by any means,” Marzluff says.

“It’s a seasonal thing. So right now the young are in the nest, and they come out of the nest and they’re vulnerable on the ground or in the trees, bushes. The parents are really aggressive because their young are close to where you are,” he explains.

“This is something that also will pass. So if there’s any way to avoid the area for a few weeks, that’s the best strategy for sure. Then they’ll be done with it, and they won’t have recognized you as a threat.”

The attacks typically stop by July.