Monday, June 12, 2006

standing up to aggressors

I was attacked today on my way to the gym. It was so unexpected to have something like that happen in broad daylight. In fact I didn't even understand what was happening at first. A passing car muffled the sound of my attacker approaching fast from the rear. Then BAM, she hit me from behind. Well, maybe not so much a BAM as a FLUTTER. The vicious bird sort of bumped my arm and fluttered past. It was bigger than a sparrow but smaller than a crow. I don't know what it was exactly, but it looked a bit crow-like. She was slowed enough by the impact that I'm sure if I hadn't been so surprised I could have reached out and caught her as she flew past.

Like I said, I didn't realize immediately that the mean little bird was attacking me. I thought maybe she had been startled and trying to escape the car that had just passed and that she bumped me by accident. After all, she wasn't exactly in my weight class and unless she was suicidal, picking a fight with me seemed like unusually poor decision-making. But I walked on and she did it again --another vicious, completely unprovoked attack from the rear. Have birds no honor?

I've seen this behavior before: birds attacking potential predators that approach too close to their nests. Once I saw a tiny little bird going after a cat. The cat was just walking along minding its own business when this bird swooped out of nowhere to buzz past it's widdle puddy head as fast as a thrown rock. The cat was startled and crouched down, but the bird was already gone. The cat resumed it's dignified pace for a moment, and then the bird was back. SWOOP. It didn't actually hit the cat but the cat was obviously rattled by this mysterious guided rock that someone kept throwing at it. With a bit less aplomb, the cat tried to resume it's dignified air, but a third swoop sent it running off like a, well, like a scaredy cat --funny as all get out.

Another time I saw a big bird, a crow, I think, going after a dog. The dog was medium-sized, part Black Lab from her look. Her name was Shadow. She was up on a trampoline to see over the fence and bark and the miscreants on the other side (to a dog, anyone on the other side of a fence is a miscreant). This crow dive-bombed Shadow, but Shadow didn't even notice it the first time; she just kept barking in excitement. The crow dive bombed her again, and this time Shadow acknowledged it with a flick of an ear and a sort of impatient glance, but didn't let it distract her from the important job of keeping an eye on those miscreants. The crow must have been frustrated, but it never did get a decent response from Shadow.

So the question before me, as I faced this dangerous avian hostile was, am I a cowardly cat or a miscreant-hunting dog? I'm a DOG by golly. So I turned around and walked back along where she had attacked me before, trying to provoke her into another attack. No dice, the little chicken (I don't think she wasn't literally a chicken --too small and too agile in the air) just sat up on a nearby roof and looked at me sideways as if to say, "What me? I didn't dive bomb anyone today!"

So I went on to the gym, did my time and went back by the same path. This time, the bird didn't try anything. She knew she'd met her match.

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