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Bicyclists get surprise when a hawk attacks

In yet another example of the territorial nature of birds, bicyclists in Oregon are under attack from a large Swainson’s Hawk looking to protect its young.

According to The Republic, a male hawk is perched above a trail in Oregon and swoops down on bicyclists who go by. Those who frequent the trail said they’ve encountered the bird before (since hawks tend to nest in the same area year after year) but this time, the hawk is much more aggressive.

“He comes from behind like a fighter plane,” said Mack Temple.

Temple, too, has encountered the raptor in past years but the bird never made contact until this summer, about two weeks ago.

“He’s back and he’s much more aggressive,” Temple said. “He came in from behind and whacked me on the top of my helmet.”

“He screams,” added Temple, noting the characteristic Swainson’s screech.

Another rider reported the bird dive-bombing him in the back with the bird’s talons piercing his helmet. Although this must be unimaginably frightening to people who don’t know he is there or that birds protect their young, this is not at all out of the ordinary.

As I wrote a few months ago, birds seem to attack more often because their natural habitat is being invaded by humans and there are fewer secluded areas.

This should be a warning to stay as far away as possible until the young grow a bit bigger because that’s when the parents will stop being so aggressive.

But, as a precaution, the next time you go biking anywhere, watch the skies for swooping hawks.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.