West Chester park manager: Beware the blackbirds

WEST CHESTER, OHIO -- In the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock horror film “The Birds,” swarming birds terrorize the residents of Bodega Bay, California for no apparent reason.

Voice of America Park in West Chester is far from California, but the park does share one thing in common with Hitchcock’s classic film --  dive bombing birds.

"In the springtime, the redwinged blackbirds come back in, they nest all over our park here," said Matt Stevens, senior park manager.

Stevens and crew recently erected signs  warning visits about the particular mating habits of the redwing black bird. And they provide some reason why park visitors might occasionally look to the sky.

According to the signs, the male birds grow increasingly aggressive during mating season in the spring and will attack anything, or anyone that nears their nests.

“They may SWOOP & PECK!” the bright yellow signs warn.

"We get calls all the time that birds are attacking," Stevens says.

The birds behavior is a result of being constantly preyed upon by other birds and reptiles such as snakes, according to a University of Michigan Museum of Zoology article on the species “Agelaius phoneiceus.”

"The redwing blackbirds are just telling them, hey, this is my area, move on. Hurry up," Stevens said.

The behavior usually ends after hatchlings, typically two to four in number, leave the nest in summer. And unlike the classic black and white film where the birds appear to spell doom, the Warren County park's birds are more of a nuisance than real threat.

"He really let us know, vocally, that he was not happy with us being there," said one park patron, Jaquita Raleigh, of her experience with one of the birds.

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