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New park budget makes room for Lions pool improvements

(Photo by Tom Houlihan)

You hear the chirp followed by, perhaps, a brief flash of red.

Then the feathered warrior swoops down, coming distressingly close to your head, and bringing back unpleasant memories of Alfred Hitchcock’s avian horror story, “The Birds.”

Red-winged blackbirds have reportedly scared the bejabbers out of golfers at Coyote Run for close to a decade. This year, for the first time, the golf course has posted signs warning patrons that they may be buzzed from on high. The signs tell golfers to beware of nesting blackbirds that are “very territorial.”

Dave Ward, Coyote Run’s superintendent of golf, said the birds have been a problem for the past eight or nine years. In the past, the course alerted golfers with yellow warning tape but this year decided to try the signs. Until recently, a portion of the clubhouse lawn was taped off.

“I don’t know why, but the red-winged blackbirds seem more aggressive by the clubhouse,” Ward said. “They nest near water – and we have a lot of water so we tend to get a lot of birds.”

Birds generally don’t make contact with their target but can be frightening when they dive past your head, Ward said.

Besides the clubhouse area, red-winged blackbirds also congregate near the front entrance sign and at various places near the ponds.

Ward offered one protective measure he’s learned over the years.

“I have learned that if you stare at the red-winged blackbirds they will not dive at you,” he said. “Also, they give you warning with their distinctive chirps.“

A few days ago, Ward said, he was cultivating the flower bed under the golf course sign on Kedzie Avenue.

“While bent over, one of the birds landed on my back for a while,” he said.

Ward said red-wing blackbirds remain aggressive until their chicks “fledge” and get ready to leave the nest.

“Then they go back to ignoring people,” he said.

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