Male blackbirds intent on protecting turf: Bicyclists, pedestrians report attacks; experts blaming feisty males

There’s a predator lurking in Chicago-area bushes these days. He strikes from behind, when victims are least aware. And the worst part, says ornithologist Doug Stotz: He could be almost anywhere.

Nesting season is in full swing for the red-winged blackbird, making the males extremely aggressive. Walk or bike too close to one’s nest and expect to hear its high, menacing squawk overhead. Then comes the peck-peck-peck on your head, victims say, or claws rustling your hair.

It happened to Holly Grosso. The businesswoman was on her cell phone, walking along West Grand Avenue near Rockwell Street on Wednesday, when the bird—dubbed “Hitchcock” by area workers—made its move.

“Something just came down, pecked me in the head, took my hair and started flying away,” she said. “It’s so bizarre. It’s this little bird.”

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