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Added Mar 17 2014

Last year I noticed something I never noticed in my 20 or so years living in Lincoln Square near Winnemac Park. Lots of black birds which I think are Grackles. They seem to be stalker types. My concern and I admit fear grew last summer when I witnessed a bunch of them attacking a large dove type bird in my neighbors yard. They freak me out to the point of having a badminton racket at hand in case they swoop down on my head! Has anyone else noticed? I am seeing them again this spring.

  • smartypants Be Nice

    OTB! Is that what they are? We had one decapitating some other large bird in our yard awhile back...My husband photographed and videotaped it! :( Gross! I'm with you! I think it's a bit scary..

  • Delia Kropp Loving Ravenswood since 1990

    Take a careful look. They might be also starlings, a non-native European bird also known for aggressive, predatory behavior. My grandfather always had a bb gun on hand to "discourage" them from attacking swallows and songbirds.

  • We have discovered 3-4 dead doves (feather pile) in our backyard this winter. I'm wondering if they are the culprits.

  • robin in WRP I support a 28th Amendment 4Free & Fair Elections!

    The black birds are probably starlings

    If you have dead birds in your yard, call 311; they will be tested for disease

  • DMC Average Citizen.

    Both are common sites in our area and are not likely to dive bomb a person. Feather piles could also be the result of cats.

  • DMC Average Citizen.


  • LauraLiz 20 year North Side Resident. Transit junkie.

    This is a really good resource for identifying birds.

  • Christine D. Neighbor

    Lived around both grackles and starlings all my life - they don't attack people. Personally I'm a wimp when it comes to the real workings of nature, so I understand the reaction to seeing a bird get attacked, but alas, that's just the way it is. If you look carefully into your backyard, there are all kinds of predation going on - starting at the insect level and going up from there...finishing with the most destructive predators of all, human beings.

  • Botkin Kinch: the knife-blade

    As someone who's been attacked by a grackle, I can confirm they will attack people. Maybe it's not common, but it can happen. Only time I've ever been attacked by any bird, and all I did was unwittingly walk on a sidewalk that went under its nest.

  • Feihong EveryBlock developer, Lincoln Square dweller

    Googling around a bit, it looks like grackles sometimes will attack humans in order to protect their young:

  • Christine D. Neighbor

    You're right, Botkin, that any animal, including birds, can attack when they have young and feel threatened. It can be pretty freaky when this happens with a bird, but less tricky than when it's a moose - now that's a BIG animal LOL. Being up north in moose areas in the spring and summer,people are careful not to find themselves in between a mother and her babies. Given the extremely high rate of predation on baby birds, I can understand that vigilance - it's tough out there!

  • Botkin Kinch: the knife-blade

    Scared the bejeezus out of me.

  • Jim, Lincoln Square GRO member

    they go crazy if you get near their nests. I used to walk to work at the job I had as a kid and would be swarmed with a half dozen of them on the way down the street.

  • Gonzo Rockatansky

    Grakles are predatory meat eaters. Don't let them get nears your ears or they will try to peck out brain flesh which is rich in magnesium. Hichcock did a movie on it once.

  • Sighryn Roscoe resident

    Dang it. I'm already worried about the Hawks and Falcons taking my dog. Piles of feathers is usually a Hawk or Falcon.

  • Many years ago I witnessed some type of black bird attacking joggers and bikers and others along the bike path on lake shore drive. Obviously it had built its nest right over it. All those who passed under too slowly became victims of the minor attack. I mentioned this to my friend who bikes there frequently and she said that still one nests there, as she had one swoop at her last year.

    Best I don't mention the presence of these birds to my sister. My dad let her watch the Hitchcock movie "The Birds" when she was only 3 or 4 and she has been terrified of them ever since! :)

  • Ah! that what they are? Then I was divebombed by a mad grackle last summer at midday over on Eddy just west of Ravenswood. I thought it was a crow. It started screaming when I turned down the street, and as I kept walking, it dived down at me from the top of a very high tree. It came so close I could hear the wind from its wings, but it didn't touch me. And it kept divebombing me all the way down the block, in fact two of its friends joined it. And those suckers are BIG. I turned down Ravenswood and ran for the viaduct at Cornelia and they kept following me. You can bet I hung out in there for a bit before I came out the other side and headed for Lincoln as fast as I could, looking over my shoulder the whole time. Haven't gone back down Eddy since, LOL.

  • Rachel, the birds on the Lake Shore path were/are Red-Winged Blackbirds, also notorious for territorial nature. A friend of mine was dive-bombed by one by the Shedd years ago - that particular bird made the local news for consistently harassing folks who got too close to the nest. Even BBCAmerica covered the story of our Chicago Red-Wings:

  • abcxyz

    Red-winged blackbirds nest near water - FYI. I was seriously warned by one at North Park Nature Center when walking the wooden sidewalk over the lagoon one spring. My niece was more seriously attacked in the head in a suburban park.

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Posted to Lincoln Square

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