Bird attacks on humans are rather rare

Birds that attack joggers – you read about that again and again. According to experts, this can happen in spring and summer, but is rather rare. “As a rule, the reason is that they want to defend their brood or young birds,” says Martin Rümmler from the German Nature Conservation Union (Nabu) in Berlin. Such behavior is known primarily from birds of prey such as the buzzard and crows.

Just last week, the city of Potsdam warned of a breeding buzzard in a small wooded area that would attack athletes if they got too close to its eyrie. Cases like this quickly make the headlines. However, according to the State Association for Bird and Nature Conservation (LBV) in Hilpoltstein, they are the exception. According to this, around 16,000 pairs of common buzzards breed in Bavaria alone. But there are only a few dozen attacks every year.

“Common buzzards do not attack people out of aggression, but only to ward off a perceived threat to their brood,” explains LBV spokeswoman Stefanie Bernhardt. “Objects that move faster are perceived as a threat, especially joggers, much less often cyclists, and exceptionally also walkers.” The phase when the young birds leave the nest and are still moving very clumsily is particularly critical.

Parent birds fly mock attacks

In order to defend their offspring, according to Rümmler, parent birds then fly mock attacks. So these are not real attacks. “The birds put themselves in danger when they make contact. That’s why they are very careful when doing this.” Normally, scratches only occur when the buzzard accidentally brushes against a person’s head.

The two experts therefore advise recreational athletes to wear a hat for protection and to avoid nests. Signs around a few eyries often warn of possible attacks, says Bernhard. Avoiding forests in general is unnecessary, as only a few birds behave aggressively.

In the event of an attack, it is best to hold up a long stick, an umbrella or something similar. The attacks were mostly on the highest point of the body – or on its extension, i.e. the stick, says Bernhardt.

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