So Not An Expert

To Kill a Red-Winged Blackbird: Is That a Sin?

red winged blackbird.jpg

See how mean?

I know it's a sin to kill a mockingbird, but how about a red-winged blackbird?

If you frequent forest preserves or nature centers, you must know what I'm talking about.  The nasty birds that stand guard over nearly every open meadow in Illinois.

Honestly, they're perfectly awful.

Just the other day, my efforts to jog past one of these birds were thwarted by its angry calls and swift swooping. It's nesting time and they're out in full force protecting their young, but could I possibly be such a threat? Maybe my floppy, sweaty ponytail resembles the tail of an enemy?

According to

Male Agelaius phoeniceus are aggressive defenders of breeding territory, spending up to a quarter of their time trying to frighten away rivals and predators. They have good reason to be jealous--a typical male mates with over a dozen females and eggs in the nest tend to have different fathers.

Ah, well, pardon me for saying, if they'd just practice a little self-restraint and birth control, we humans would all be a whole lot safer.

Lest you think I'm a wimp, you should know that I've voluntarily given birth naturally (twice), suffer through monthly migraines without the use of prescription meds, and once considered attending West Point. In other words, I have a pretty high threshold for pain. OK maybe not the threat of pain, but for pain itself.

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There they are guarding and awaiting their next victim

In case you're guessing I may not have "a way" with animals, you may have a point. I do have a knack for pulling anger out of geese and urine from monkeys, but on this count of frightening red-wing blackbirds, I plead innocent.

It's not just me. (Come on, I know there are others out there.)

I've a friend who was attacked by one of these birds while jogging along a path in St. Charles and another friend who was assaulted while walking in Itasca. Not long ago a man was killed by a red-winged blackbird while biking with his family. He swerved to avoid the bird and fell and hit his head and died.

These dangerous things are everywhere, and I'm about ready to fight back...with my son's air soft gun. (Can you just see me hauling that thing through the woods while running?) And to think I'm the first one to call my brother-in-law a Bambi Killer during hunting season.


Pretty much how it is

I've had it. I'm tired of running like a maniac with my hands and keys waving and flying overhead to appear imposing to these things.

Only here's the thing: If I were to harm one, I'd be in a heap of trouble. Apparently, $250,000 and two years prison time worth of trouble.

So, let me get this straight. These birds can attack me (people) all day long and they don't lose their nest eggs?

Oh, but's our recourse. When confronted head-on by a red-winged blackbird, we are... simply stare back into its eyes. Better yet, (local and federal officials) advise, avoid known red wing territories altogether.

No offense, but that's easier said than done. The last thing I want to do is gaze into the eyes of some crazy, seemingly rabid animal.

I guess that leaves avoidance. I'll likely carry on as I have been--either by swatting the bird-filled air or leaving the areas where I'm clearly unwelcome, much like this guy....

How about you? Have you a crafty way of dealing with red wings? Or, do you have a war story to share?




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nickolas said:

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"Not long ago a man was killed by a red-winged blackbird while biking with his family. He swerved to avoid the bird and fell and hit his head and died."

The man was not killed by the bird... the man died from hitting his head when he fell.

Jackie Tithof Steere said:


Yes, and still he fell (and ultimately died) because of the bird attack. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Jackie Tithof Steere said:


I'd call that a two-part cause of death. Years ago when my friend died, the official cause of death was three-part: breast cancer, accident, and metastasized cancer. The accident was due in part to her illness. If it counts for a human, it counts for a bird.

Frog01 said:

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I am in Wisconsin, and I'v been divebombed by these suckers while biking many times. A few times they've gotten in my hair. Today, I rode 1/4 of a mile with one of these birds screaching like crazy about 5 ft over my head.

I like your idea of carrying an Airsoft gun. If it were legal, I would carry a pistol with me while on my bike. Unfortunately, if these things attack, we just have to deal with it, or face a $250,000 fine. Although, I think if you kill one in self defense, you wouldn't get into any trouble. The fine is really there to scare away bird hunters.

Jackie Tithof Steere said:


I guess like anything, self defense is always a good defense. I'm sorry to hear of all your troubles with these darn things. I heard one woman say that she rides about a mile out of her way just to avoid them...not sure if that will help you or not, but keep safe. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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