'It pecked my head': Attacking birds shut down Grosse Pointe Farms pool

Posted at 10:38 PM, Jun 01, 2023

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Attacking birds have shut down a pool in Grosse Pointe Farms. The baby pool at Pier Park is closed until further notice due to red-winged blackbirds nesting in the area.

The birds are known to be aggressive during this time of year, diving at unsuspecting people who unknowingly walk by their nest.

When filming the birds, 7 Action News photographer Dave Kalman went from bird watcher to bird dodger. On multiple occasions, the birds dove from the sky straight toward his head. It's something parkgoers have become quite used to.

“I was just walking right there and the whole darn thing just came right down at me,” resident Mark Bollozos said.

“All of a sudden, I could hear this flapping behind me and I went to look and it pecked my head,” resident Georgianna Murray said.

Nearly everyone we asked had a story to tell about when they fell victim to a red-winged blackbird attack.

Some attacks were at random, while others weren't so much.

“I actually witnessed one of my friends from the woods come here and try to feed them," 12-year-old resident Pierce Danzinger said. "It did not turn out well.”

Twelve-year-olds Malcom Richards and Danzinger know all about the birds, heeding the warnings scattered around the park.

“I've heard before they’re trying to protect their nest when they attack people,” Richards said.

Lisa Duke with Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary says Malcolm is right.

“They are actively defending that territory, and they don’t care how big you are,” Duke said.

Duke says when these common birds migrate back in the spring, they usually nest near water. The males keep eye out on their nest and when they see someone approaching, they attack. They are known for their aggressive dive bombing.

“It's just like a graze on the top of your head, just a little scrape is the worst," Duke said. "Scarier more than it is anything harmful.”

“You won't think there's a nest anywhere around and they’re just coming and dive bombing,” Murray said.

While parkgoers do their best, the attacks are inevitable. This year, the birds seemed to have nested around the baby pool. In the meantime, residents will keep their eyes out until the dive bombing settles down.

“We take protection," Murray said. "It doesn't stop us from enjoying our summer.”

As for the baby pool, it will remain closed until the babies hatch and leave the nest, which could be in a few days or a few weeks.