Spring, 7pm. A girl walks along a busy avenue when a crow swoops down on her. She finds it bizarre, but keeps walking. Seconds later, the bird comes back cawing, full speed. It dive-bombs her again, and again, and again. She starts running, terrified.
It’s not a scene of The Birds, by Alfred Hitchcock, and the girl is not a fictional character. This scene happened on West 4th Avenue, between Balaclava and MacDonald Streets, in the Vancouver neighbourhood of Kitsilano. The girl was me.
After hearing so many stories about crow attacks, it happened to me. The crow dive-bombed me along two blocks. I realized it wouldn’t give up, so I tried to cross the road — one of many recommendations to stop them.
Cars were coming — the bird too. Nervous, I stumbled and fell on the pavement. The crow kept coming back, so I stood up, injured, and kept running. I ran for about five minutes, but it looked like a round-the-world trip.
It was only when I got on a bus that I realized how sore I was. There was blood on my left elbow, stomach, and right knee, foot and hand. All my injuries are the result of falling, not of the crow’s bite.
After getting help at a pharmacy, I headed home and treated my injuries. Then, I started my research on crows to find out that the attacks are way more common than I’d expect.
They’re so common that two college instructors, Rick Davidson and Jim O’Leary, launched a Vancouver interactive map that pinpoints the location and severity of crow attacks. You can also report an attack.
It happened to me in Kitsilano, but crow attacks are also frequent in the West End and downtown Vancouver. Having said that, it’s important to clarify that these birds don’t want to do us any harm.
Attacks are more likely to happen during the nesting season, mainly in May and June. Experts say that crows dive-bomb humans when we get too close to their nests and fledgling crows. Their behaviour means “get out of here.”
Crows feel threatened by humans. That’s why these stressful interactions occur. But it’s not their fault. We settled in their territory. This is their natural habitat and they’re adaptable to urban areas.
Based on tips to prevent crow attacks, I did everything right: I tried to cross the road (but couldn’t because of the busy traffic), didn’t hit or throw anything at the bird and ran away as fast as I could.
Until the end of the nesting season, I’ll follow one more tip: wear a hat or have an umbrella. It’s said that crows target the back of the head, so I should feel safer. I’ll also watch out my behaviour. There’s no reason for phobia. It was not personal.
A friend told me to look at it symbolically. I loved that. Maybe I’ll understand what this unexpected tussle (like she said) means and what I can learn from it. Let’s not initiate a battle against crows.
On a phone chat with Wildlife Rescue Association of BC, I was told that I probably walked past some nest on the trees above me or bushes in front of the buildings. The best is to avoid the same area or use an umbrella.
As someone who was never fond of crows, I look at them with more respect now. The bird was agile and fearless to protect their beloved ones. I have to respect the nature of things.
Should I start reading Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, by Ted Andrews?
Photo credit: Doug Zwick via Flickr