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Crow attack season in Vancouver: Why birds attack and what to do when they do

Alison Pudsey Apr 16, 2017 5:59 am 16,938

It’s almost that time of year again – and not the one you’ve been longing for – it’s the time of year when crows attack.

While most people laugh when they first hear of a crow attack, as someone who has personally been attacked before – trust me when I say that a crow attack is no joke.

What may seem funny to some, can actually be downright terrifying when a black bird is ‘caw-ing’ in your ear and pecking your head, all at once.

Why crows attack

You may be forgiven for wondering “Why me?” “Why is this bird harassing me?”

According to Derek Matthews, Chairman of Vancouver Avian Research Centre, the answer is that they’re just being good parents.

Derek Matthews, Chairman of Vancouver Avian Research Centre, poses with a crow while bird watching (Derek Matthews)

“Most crow attacks happen in May, June, July which is the nesting season for crows like many other song birds,” said Matthews in a telephone interview with Daily Hive.

“Crows are territorial and their particularly protective when young leave the nest. If they believe that any kind of threat is near – cats, dogs or people – they will attack.”

Matthews said the main reason for a crow attack is that crows invest a lot of time and energy into their young. They spend several weeks building nests, up to 20 days incubating eggs and another 30 days feeding their young.

“Crows have very human like personalities and just like us, they protect their young and this is all these birds are doing. If we protect our kids we’re called heroes and if [crows] do it they are called villains, ” said Matthews.

Crows can remember faces

Concerned scared shocked woman


Fascinatingly enough, crows are actually very smart and can even remember peoples’ faces for up to six months – Crazy eh?

“They are different from other birds because studies of facial recognition in crows show that crows, as part of their evolutionary success, learn to zero in on people who feed or harass them,” said Matthews.

“If you toss crows [food] – and I’ve done this – on a regular basis, they will actually wait and watch for you. Not just any person but you as an individual, and if you do it often enough they will actually follow you down the street to get more. The same applies if they think you are harassing them.”

What to do if you’re attacked

crow sitting in nest in tree


Matthews said if you do get attacked, the most important thing to remember is don’t panic. Crows are not massive birds and don’t transmit any diseases, so simply turn around and walk away.

“You shouldn’t flap [at it] – basically just keep moving and move away from them … chances are you are in nest territory and they are trying to defend their nest and young.”

“I try to encourage people to enjoy the crows, as well as other birds, and to appreciate them for the fascinating and highly intelligent creatures that they are.”

Unfortunately Alfred Hitchcock did not do the crows any favours when the movie The Birds was filmed, laughs Matthews. He said regardless of what people think, crows are not evil and are just trying to live their lives and feed their families, just like the rest of us.

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Alison Pudsey
Lifestyle contributor for Daily Hive. Lover of dogs, coffee, yoga and all things celebrity gossip. Toronto is home, but Vancity has my heart.

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