Tidbits and Fit-Bytes: Eyes in the back of my head
By Mary Van De Velde
One thing I love about running or biking on a path is the comradery since most walker, runners, or bikers are looking out for each other. The other day while running, I noticed one girl with a very frightened look on her face and I realized….”They’re back!!” I’m talking about the birds known to everyone who uses the path….the red-winged blackbird, or the bird that loves to attack. I went into my Tippi Hedren mode and started to run low expecting the big swoop. Sure enough, on the block between Rt. 83 and Berkeley in Elmhurst on the Illinois Prairie Path, I was nailed from behind by the crazy bird. This time, I was actually hit by either his beak or foot on the back of my head. I yelped and said a few words not printable and sped up to get away from yet another dive bomb. I warned the next two women walking past me that the birds were back!
The bird attacks are nothing new to most people who use paths in marshy areas or meadows. They are male birds protecting their nests, usually during the peak mating months of May and July. What’s kind of creepy about the handsome, mean redwings is that they are quite polygamous, mating with anywhere from 5-15 female birds. As usual with birds, the females are just plain-colored, but they mind their own business, while the males are the stalkers. After doing some research, I found out they’re protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (never knew there was one) and if you take a BB gun to the pecker, you could be fined $250,000 or go to jail for two years. Also, animal control groups can’t move the bird’s nests without a permit, so I guess we’re stuck expecting the worst or you can try to take a different route.
It seems to me the problem has gotten worse and no one wants to talk about it! The other day though, while meeting up with a long-time prairie path runner, he told me the birds only attack when you’re alone. I had never heard this…no wonder I see people by themselves swatting around their heads. My buddy Bob also told me he waves his hat at the birds when running next to trees and wires. I always thought it was my ponytail that attracted the birds, but bald Bob has been nailed numerous times.
So what to do about it? Some bird experts say the redwings don’t like the color yellow, so that’s what I’ll be wearing for 3 months. Others say you have to stare at the birds and they’ll go away. That’s tough to do when they always swoop from your back. One crazy suggestion is to tape some of those plastic eyeballs to the back of your hat or head. I think I’d rather run backwards…runners are weird enough!