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Watch a Bird Dive-bomb People in San Francisco

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You’re walking down the street, maybe listening to some music on your phone or picking up your daughter from school, when all of a sudden you feel a firm pang on the back of your head. You instinctively duck and clutch your head while turning around to see nothing out of the ordinary.

If this has ever happened to you, you were probably the victim of a dive-bombing bird.

Although I’ve never been the target of an angry bird protecting its young, I can imagine it’s frightening to get attacked by an unprovoked bird. But videos of birds swooping down on someone’s unsuspecting head can be funny sometimes (as long as it’s all in good fun and no one gets hurt, of course).

The latest video making the rounds was filmed in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park where locals and tourists were attacked by an aggressive blackbird. The physical reaction from everyone was the same, but some people were utterly confused, some were angry, and others were fearful.

Take a look at the video (skip to 30 seconds for the action):

Why do some birds attack people (and any animal that comes near)? Some birds have a brain chemical that makes them highly aggressive when defending a nest or competing for mates. Some scientists even went so far as to do experiments to see what would happen if that chemical was muted.

Here’s more on that from an article in Discover Magazine:

By using a small piece of DNA that specifically matched to waxbills’ — notoriously aggressive birds — brand of VIP, scientists created an injection that stopped the birds’ neurons from producing the anger-inducing chemical. The waxbills’ reactions to intruders went from instant brawling to more sedate warning chirps. In birds that were less aggressive, like zebra finches, the injection made them even more peaceable.

While these videos can be funny, it’s important to take precaution around nests because some species like Red-winged Blackbird and Canada Geese can be extremely aggressive to the point where you can get injured. The man in the gif below had has tooth knocked out when a bird chased him and knocked him down.

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If you see a bird attacking anybody who comes nearby, do everyone a favor and put up a warning sign!

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.