How To Avoid Getting Attacked By A Mockingbird


Reports of mockingbirds attacking people who were walking through Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn started coming in over the last couple of weeks, but mockingbird attacks aren’t limited to New York City. That’s because mockingbird attacks aren’t contingent on a specific location but are instead determined by the time of the year and the creatures within closest proximity to the nest. Mockingbirds breed during the spring and early summer months and they defend their nests vigorously during this time.

A 2009 study published in Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences described the ability mockingbirds possess to recognize individual features of humans as well as other species. Individuals who come too close to a mockingbird nest are subject to an attack within a couple days should they continue frequenting the area, according to the study. The best way to avoid a mockingbird attack? Never get too close to a mockingbird nest.Mockingbirds aren’t the only animals to watch out for when you travel. Check out the following stories about animal attacks:

Cougars Regaining Numbers, Spreading Habitat

cougars, cougar
Cougars have been declining in number for a century now, as victims of hunting and loss of habitat. Now the BBC reports they’re making a comeback. The population is increasing and they are spreading out of their usual western habitats back into eastern and northern areas where they haven’t been seen for many years.

They’ve been spotted from Texas to Canada, and one even made it to Connecticut last year, only to get killed by a car.

Naturalists say that restrictions on hunting and the return of some of their prey, like elk and mule deer, have increased their numbers and forced these solitary animals to search further afield in search of a hunting range.

Some have raised concerns about cougar attacks. Although experts say that cougars generally avoid humans, cougars must be treated with caution like any wild animal. From 2001 through 2010, there have been 36 injuries and four deaths caused by cougars in the U.S. and Canada.

By way of comparison, lightning killed 26 people in the U.S. in 2011 alone. Environment Canada reports, “each year lightning kills approximately 10 Canadians and injures approximately 100 to 150 others.” So it appears that, much like the common fear of wolves and sharks, fear of cougars is based less on their real threat than it is on urban ignorance of nature.

[Photo courtesy Art G]

Father saves daughter from zoo bear attack

Warning to little girls everywhere–giant teddy bears may very well try to eat you.

Warning to parents everywhere–watch your kids when around dangerous wild animals.

A Dutch family was visiting a private zoo in Luenebach, Germany, when their three-year-old daughter became enchanted by an Asian black bear. While her parents’ backs were turned she climbed the fence, which was only a meter (three feet) tall, and fell inside the bear’s enclosure. The bear then struck the kid. Daddy leaped in, got his own share of bear battering, and managed to save his daughter. Both were taken to the hospital but their injuries are not life-threatening.

This isn’t the first time the bear has acted like, well, a bear. Three years ago he attacked and injured a zookeeper.

Police are now investigating why it was so easy for a small child to get into the bear’s enclosure and why the parents didn’t notice her doing it.

As a parent I can testify to how quickly a small child can slip out of sight and get into mischief, but even when my son was three he knew not to climb fences and approach strange animals. Why? Because I told him. Of course that’s no guarantee, but he hasn’t done it in the first five years of his life, greatly increasing the chances that he will see the next five. Parents, please, teach your kids about animal safety. Cute does not mean safe. Just ask the Chinese guy who suffered a panda attack.

Image courtesy of Guérin Nicolas via Wikimedia Commons.

Passenger on Southwest flight stung by scorpion

First snakes on a plane, now scorpions.

Doug Herbstommer was traveling from Phoenix to Indianapolis on Southwest Airlines and was apparently carrying some non-TSA approved items in his carry-on. As he was rummaging through his bag, he was stung by a scorpion, identified as an Arizona bark scorpion, which had presumably gotten into his bag in Phoenix and come along for the ride. The sting of this kind of scorpion is rarely fatal and Herbstommer was treated when the plane landed in Indianapolis.

Several more baby scorpions were found in Herbstommer’s luggage and in the overhead bin of the plane. They were removed and the jet was fumigated as a precaution.

[via USA Today]

Giant squid invade waters off San Diego

It sounds like the plot of campy 1970’s horror flick: aggressive giant squid sporting razor-sharp beaks and tentacles with teeth start showing up in the waters off the coast, attacking divers and grabbing their masks and hoses. But this is a real-life version of “It Came from the Deep”, and it’s happening in the waters near San Diego.

The creatures are called Humboldt squid, (though they’re also referred to as “red devils” for their color and hostile behavior) and can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh 100 pounds. They’re carnivorous and known for being particularly aggressive, especially when feeding. Scientists say they’ll even cannibalize other squid during a feeding frenzy. Though they’re native to Mexico, the squid have shown up in smaller numbers all along the west coast of the US. The last time such a large invasion occurred was in 2002, when 12 tons of dead squid eventually washed ashore near San Diego.

The squid generally stay a few hundred feet below the surface, but divers have reported seeing them at depths of 60-80 feet. Some divers have come across them without incident, but others have been bumped, pushed and pulled by antagonistic squid. Many divers are just choosing to steer clear of the squid, staying out of the water until the “carnivorous calamari” move on. Swimmers most likely won’t run into any of the squid, except for the few that wash up on the beach.

[via ABC News]