A few days ago I watched a man flailing his arms as he walked down the sidewalk outside my bookstore. He was older, with a white beard and thinning white hair, and dressed in a light gray suit. He looked ridiculous with his arms swinging around his head, and he kept spinning around and looking at the sky. That’s when I saw a starling dive-bombing him – it never came closer than a foot or so, but it swooped down repeatedly, beating its wings and chasing the man down the sidewalk.
I’ve recently been watching the starlings roost above the loading dock roof, and sometimes I see them chasing crows. It looks like motorcyclists darting around semi-trucks, though in mid-air.
When the man in the suit passed the bus shelter, the pursuing bird landed on the shelter roof. The man walked down the sidewalk about twenty feet and turned back to look, then walked another twenty feet and stopped again. I couldn’t figure out why the starling was attacking him, and he couldn’t either. But just then, another pedestrian walked down the sidewalk and the starling started to dive-bomb him.
The man in the suit, apparently satisfied, walked away.
A few days before, I’d watched two landscapers stop and peer into a few small hedges near the bus stop. I’m pretty sure the starling has a nest there. Now, every day and without fail, I see the starling guard its territory, a forty foot stretch between the bus stop and a light-post. I’ve watched the bird attack numerous people, including a pregnant woman with a baby in a stroller, several teens, and a few corporate types.
Sometimes the pedestrians don’t even know what’s happening. The starling will fly behind them and flap its wings to hover near their head. When a victim finally figures it out, a mixture of disbelief and confusion, and sometimes a little anger or panic, crosses their face. I’ve seen people run, swat at the bird, and swear and yell.
A coworker has an office window that overlooks the sidewalk and he’s also been watching this happen all week.
Keep it up, starling, keep it up. You’re doing good…