People shopping in a West Vancouver neighbourhood are being warned to keep their eyes on the skies above due to a family of dive-bombing crows.
The swooping attacks have become persistent enough that someone has posted signs along Marine Drive in the Dundarave neighbourhood alerting passersby to the possibility of the aerial attacks.
Global News cameras witnessed several people being buzzed by the birds on Thursday, including one man who needed an ice pack for scratches.
Langara College instructor Jim O’Leary has created CrowTrax, an interactive map that allows area residents to report attacks. He told Global News that people are occasionally injured by the birds.
“Every year I get reports of crows attacking people and hitting their heads and drawing blood and sometimes a talon gets stuck in the hair,” he said.
“You have to keep your head up. But sometimes they are silent. Sometimes they seem to focus on a particular person.”
Experts who study crows say what many people perceive as aggressive behaviour are actually defensive actions on the part of the birds.
“The parents are very defensive, protective, trying to keep danger away from their kids,” crow expert and University of Washington wildlife scientist John Marzluff told Global News in a 2021 interview.
According to Marzluff, Crows will particularly react to perceived threats, meaning it’s a bad idea to respond to a dive bomb aggressively, retaliate or try to touch a baby bird.
In fact, research has shown that crows are capable or remembering human faces — and what’s more, passing information on people they see as threats down to future generations.
“They’re amazing, amazing family birds and they protect their young,” West Vancouverite Josephine Defraitus told Global News. She was unfazed after being swarmed by several of the birds.
“They just landed with a bump on my head, it doesn’t really hurt. … They’re threatened, they’re very protective. But that’s good, I really admire them.”
Experts say carrying an umbrella can be one way of protecting yourself.
O’Leary said you could also try carrying a snack like peanuts to throw to the birds as a peace offering.