Divebombing birds are a problem for many homeowners. These birds will swoop down on people or pets, sometimes even attacking them. It can be frightening! While these attacks may seem random, there is usually a reason that the bird is divebombing. In most cases, if a bird is divebombing it means that it has a nest with eggs or newly hatched young nearby.
It is rare for a bird to actually attack a human or animal. In most cases, it is simply trying to scare people away from its nest. Birds almost never actually make contact with the target they are divebombing. In the majority of cases, it is a bluff.
Mockingbirds and swallows are the most common culprits in divebombing incidents as they are more territorial of their nests. While mockingbirds sometimes do attempt to harm their intended target (more often cats than humans), swallows are almost always trying to be intimidating and do not mean to have actual physical contact with their target.
In general, divebombing is a more dangerous risk for the bird than the human. Most birds don't actually want to risk getting injured in retaliation.
Bird attacks, including divebombing, are unlikely to ever cause actual injury to humans.
There are a few things that you can do to try and stop divebombing birds. First, identify the general area of the bird's nest. You don't need to see it with your own two eyes, but you should be aware of the location of the bird's territory. Avoid that area for the time being. Once the nesting period is over, the bird should stop divebombing.
Next, make sure that your property is not attracting them. Limit the amount of food that you leave out, and make sure that there is no place for the birds to perch or nest. If possible, install a bird deterrent, like a hawk or owl decoy. Some people carry an umbrella to ward off the risk of divebombing birds.
While dive-bombing birds can be a nuisance, it is important to remember that they are just trying to protect their territory or young. By taking some of the steps outlined above, divebombing incidents should decrease in frequency.
In the meantime, the divebombing bird problem will typically sort itself out within two or three weeks, when the newly hatched younglings leave the nest. Try to avoid the bird's nesting area during that period if you are able to. After a few weeks, the bird's young will leave the nest and you can resume your normal routine.
You can see how long it takes a given species to leave its nest here: NestWatch | Clutch Size & Phenology for Common Species - NestWatch
If your pets are the targets of divebombing attacks, try to keep them inside for the bird's nesting period or only bring them outside on a leash.
Note that it is illegal to move a bird's nest yourself if there are eggs or newly hatched young in it, under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Avoid moving the nest or actually injuring the bird or its young, as that is against the law. The bird will stop divebombing after a few weeks.
The best thing you can do is wait out the nesting cycle and take steps afterward to prevent birds from nesting there again. Carry an umbrella if it will make you feel safer.
Good luck with your divebombing bird problem! It can be startling but it will only last a few weeks before the bird's young leave the nest and the bird stops divebombing.
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