Red-winged blackbirds on the attack

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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The weather has turned nice and people are outside enjoying it, but not every species is happy about that.

(WBAY photo)

"I've actually had one land on my head and start pecking at my head and it's terrifying," says avid runner, Amanda Auricchio. She's talking about the attack of the red-winged blackbirds, something she and others have come across while outdoors enjoying trails and parks and even backyards.

"Usually it's near places that have a low land of water and then tall grasses and you'll be peacefully running along and all of a sudden you hear the noise. And it's this special noise that red-winged blackbirds make and you know that you're in their territory," says Auricchio.

According to Matt Kriese, Brown County Parks Director, by nature, red-winged blackbirds are aggressive and extremely territorial -- especially when they are setting up nests. And while they won't really hurt you. they don't like when something invades their space.

Kriese says, "The males will protect that territory, a rather large radius around that nest and anybody or any animal that comes near, they tend to dive bomb and really it's just a scare tactic - they're trying to scare you away to protect their young is what they're doing."

There really appears to be no pattern to who or when the red-winged blackbirds will attack. Kriese says it's just when they feel like their young are in danger. So, while he encourages people to try to avoid invading the bird's territory -- that's not always easy.

He adds, "My recommendation would just be, be on the lookout, wear a hat and if you do see one, try to maintain eye contact until you're 30, 40 feet away and then they'll typically leave you alone."

And while June is usually the month they're most aggressive, the late spring could push the season back into the first couple of weeks of July.