Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Tree Swallows Attack

My run started out as anticipated... a low-key, barefoot recovery run on the athletic fields at the local high school with comfortable temperatures and a steady breeze blowing.  A few hundred yards into the run, I noticed a flock of tree swallows acrobatically darting through the air, chasing one another and flying low to the ground while searching for insects. Their speed and agility was quite fascinating. This is pretty neat, I thought. How lucky I was to once again view nature in its glory.

As I wrapped myself in these thoughts and was on the verge of a hippy folk song entering my head to reflect the mood, I noticed about 100 feet ahead one of these swallows was at eye level and flying right at me. I grew increasingly concerned as it showed no signs of slowing or changing its path. Its chirping sound that I had found so cute just moments ago was now growing louder and louder as it approached. It all happened so fast and the little bastard didn't swerve away until it was literally two feet from my face!

I cowered my hands over my face and ducked, avoiding getting hit. "Holy crap!", I exclaimed and cautiously ran on. The birds still flew overhead, and I imagined them monitoring me, but I moved out of the area and felt safe... for a while.

Unfortunately, each lap around the fields is just a bit more than a half a mile, so that meant I'd pass back by the area where the birds were hanging out quite a few times. Long story short, I was dive bombed three more times. The other interesting attack to note was when I was watching two potential aggressors to my left closely, only to hear a crescendoing bird chirp to my right and turned to see a bird flanking me and swerving two feet from my face again right as I turned. I was so startled I nearly fell.

I was thankful to have good reflexes, as they were needed during this run. I was perhaps a bit of a dumbass for running through that same area where they were attacking, but it was kind of fun. And it was somewhat comforting to know that there are much bigger dumbasses out there with reflexes equally as good:

Ran 3.1 miles @ 10:00/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Lower 70s, mostly cloudy, breezy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt.


Sparkplug said...

I can see the headlines, "Man Attacked By Killer Tree Swallows!" Seriously though, who would have thought?! Sounds like you guys had a great Pemi trip yesterday - awesome day to be out!

Blaine Moore said...

Were you running near a nest or something?

Jamie said...

Blaine, I was looking for a nest but could not see one. It's possible one was hidden within the scoreboard that was near the attack zone, though.

sn0m8n said...

Better than a spruce grouse.

Kim said...

Jaimie, I am guessing the Tree Swallows were just bored and wanted to have some fun and you looked like good entertainment. HA! ;-). For the most part Tree Swallows and all other birds are done nesting for the year and getting ready to migrate south. The Tree Swallows form huge colonies before hand and fly south together. It sounds as if you saw one of those flocks. I wouldn't be surprised if you had some juveniles coming at you and they were practicing their dive bombing techniques on you as young birds like to play practice just like young kids.

Glad you got out ok and I have to admit I am envious as birds always make me run faster, but I am usually running after them. ;-)

BTW: I love running in my Vibrams for recovery runs. I just ordered the Treks and waiting for them to arrive so I can do more trail running as the KSO's are not thick enough to do some of the more technical trail I like doing.

Jamie said...

Thanks Kim. What you say makes total sense. They were seemingly play fighting with each other when they weren't after me. Doing a lot of apparent scanning for insects also, seems logical they're fattening up for the migration. Won't be long!