“Bird attempting to attack dog?”

by Prince Of Petworth May 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm 41 Comments

bird attack
Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

“Dear PoPville,

This may sound out of left field but I promise I am not making it up. I have a small (ten pound) dog and live near the Petworth metro. Near where I live, there is a bird that every time I walk past where it hangs out, it dives at my dog, 2-3 times until we are past where it is nesting. This isn’t a big bird, it is about 4-5 inches long I would guess so very clearly has no chance of picking up a ten pound animal. Does anyone have any idea what is going on here? I thought it was a fluke the first time, but it has since happened on three different occasions.”

Ed. Note: The bird must have a nest there right? I was once dive bombed ruthlessly while trimming some bushes. Turns out there was a nest in the bushes. My old neighbor made fun of me for years afterwards. Imagine me waving clippers over head while running around the yard in circles.

Or could this be something else?

  • Is it a blue jay? Those damn things are mean! I saw one dive-bomb a German Shepherd on Quincy St near the Petworth metro; wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same bird. Dan is right, though, about it usually being about their perception that you came to close to their nest.

  • Christopher

    It’s likely a mockingbird and you’re likely walking near its nest. They can be pretty protective and will dive at animals that get too close. You can alter your route for a few weeks or, like my dad did, you can start carrying a tennis racket with you. He said it took one good swipe to get the bird to leave him and the dog alone. (no, he didn’t hit the bird).

    • dupontflyfisher

      Was watching my cousin’s puppy a few weeks back, and was out for a walk when a mockingbird swooped out of tree and nipped her butt. The dog was very confused! This was on S, somewhere between 18th and 20th.

    • jim_ed

      Second this on Mockingbird. Had one nest in a bush out front and it kept attacking our dog. I called the city and was informed its a massive fine to disturb migratory birds, so I hung up and then gave the bird the hose when it was sitting on the fence. It moved on somewhere else.

      • textdoc

        “It puts the lotion on its skin…” ;)

        • Elvis’s Mom

          Actual LOL. Well played!

      • You are downplaying the maliciousness of this mockingbird. Let us not forget when it started dive bombing me and our infant.

    • ET

      I once saw a mockingbird chase an old Tim cat down the block and across the street. And by chase I mean the bird “yelled” at him as he leisurely strolled along.

  • PetworthGuy

    SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME. OP – was it on Quincy just past the dunkins and intersection on Georgia? I was walking my dog there earlier this week and I could hear the bird squawking and then out of nowhere it swooped down at my dog and I. Did about 3 passes trying to hit us until we got about half way down the block by the row houses under renovation. If it was the same spot, the bird does not just pick on small dogs, I have a 75 pound Golden Retriever.

    • Ryan

      A mockingbird on Quincy st and 9th Pl went after our 15lb dog many times. I’ve since moved, but this happened two years in a row and always around Spring time.

    • CoHiHello

      @PetworthGuy OP here – Yes this is the exact location that this happened to me! This bird is a nuisance clearly. I hope it is just trying to protect an active nest.. because if this is going to be all summer long, wow. I’ve since started crossing the street before going down that block.

  • Mike

    Not uncommon, mockingbirds will do this.

  • soozles

    If it’s gray and white-ish, it’s probably a mocking bird. They used to dive bomb my cats all the time.

  • c

    Def a mockingbird, there’s one in Cathedral Heights with a nest across the street from 2Amys that has gotten me and my dogs before. Dogs were unfazed; I’m traumatized

  • MadMax

    Winter is coming, consider yourself warned.

  • Mocking Bird

    Yep….Mocking birds are protective of there young in the nest. Give it two weeks and you will be fine.

  • allison

    this has happened to my dog in park view, and i have a 75 pound greyhound!! the first time, the bird followed and dive bombed my dog for half the block, even after i made us started running away. i was so confused, and must have looked like a lunatic yelling profanities at the bird. my dog was terrified, as greyhounds can be. it happened a few more times, and i had to avoid that block for several weeks (took me longer to feel comfortable walking down the block…). nice to know i’m not alone in the experience, but sorry it happened to you too! it can be pretty scary if the bird is very aggressive.

    • SassyinDC (formerely)

      Totally concur, Allison. We had a 70 pound grey and used to walk religiously at Congressional Cemetery. Poor Mosby would frequently get dive-bombed by mockingbirds in the spring.

  • Ward One Resident

    There is a mocking bird that makes a nest in Kalorama Park every year and it always goes after my dog when we walk anywhere remotely near the nest. It’s even come at me instead of the dog on a few occasions and grabbed at the back of my shirt.

  • John B.

    Mockingbirds are notorious for doing this. Not sure if they’re nesting yet. And when I was a kid, the bluejays were merciless towards our family cat, divebombing her every time she went out in the yard.

  • Angry Parakeet

    Yes they dive bomb but so what? They aren’t going to injure you. I had nest in my yard and was always a target and sometimes got hit. They are small. At the Gangplank the swallows used to group-dive bomb a neighbor’s cat. And try making a murder of crows mad – they seek real revenge if you disturb their nest and they are intimidating. I did that and they would wait for me to come home from work on my bike and they would hit with their claws but never landed and pecked a la The Birds.

    • navyard

      >>Yes they dive bomb but so what? They aren’t going to injure you.

      Tippi, is that you?

  • Petworth Neighbor

    I’m your neighbor and I know exactly what you’re talking about! It is definitely the GD mockingbirds. I hate them with an undying passion. That terrible SQUAWK, the dive bombing, ugh! Like others said before, they’re protecting their nest. It started last year and it happened so often I changed my walking route with my dog. They think our small dogs are cats who want to eat their babies most likely. They’ll stop in a few months when their babies leave the nest, but probably will be back again next spring…fun fact, mockingbirds can remember faces and hold grudges. Really. So you aren’t being paranoid if you think they’re targeting you, but you are not alone! Haha. Here is the study: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2009/may/18/mockingbirds-human-recognition

    • Angry Parakeet

      Yeah, there was a NOVA about crows and their face recognition skills. Of course watching the experiments was hilarious.

    • ET

      I remember a few years ago there was a nest near the White House or somewhere downtown that was notorious for a bit because of mockingbird nest.

      • saf

        Over the main entrance to the state department. They had to move the nest.

    • Elvis’s Mom

      Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. It is, however, perfectly legit to call them dirty names.

  • NATURE!!!!

  • Dog Owner

    This bird hangs out right next to where my dog does his business. Scared the poop out of him with the divebombing yesterday…

  • DC Girl

    100% bird protecting nest. I took a 5 year old on an “urban safari” where we looked at bird nests and one of the birds dive bombed my eyeballs (!!!) when I looked straight at the nest. It was a 3 inch SPARROW but was completely willing to take me on to protect its nest.

  • Truxton Thomas

    I had my own running-in-circles-in-the-front-yard moment last night. Wanted to use the garden hose and knew a rat had started using my box hose reel as a nest, because there were grass clippings plugging every hole in the box. (This has happened once before.) So I kicked it over, and the rat ran out (last time it didn’t come back after I cleared out the nest). This time I go at it with the rake to find a nest of wriggly, nasty baby rats! So gross! I took the family inside and peeked out the window a couple times. Looks like mama rat came back for the babies and cleared out. I probably could have handled it better, but something about that nest really freaked me out. At least I haven’t put the house up for sale and move us into a hotel.

    TL;DR version: I found a bunch of baby rats in my yard, flipped out, and now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

    • ke

      “I took the family inside and…”

      At first, I read that and thought you brought the RAT family (i.e., the rat babies) inside your house. I was like…whoa…Truxton Thomas is going to kill or raise rat babies in the house!?!?!

      • Truxton Thomas

        God no! Wife and 2-year-old were outside with me. I was pretty much all, “Everyone in the house!”

    • There are lots of ways to humanely kill baby rats. You can Google that. But simplest, easiest, and most humane, is to pick them up and yank their head to severe the spinal chord. Or hold them by the tail and smash smartly them on pavement. Sorry for the graphics – but we do want to kill rats yes? Other options, drowning, poison etc. are just long and painful.

      • Truxton Thomas

        I’ll take your word for it! I took the humane approach of fleeing in terror.

        • Elvis’s Mom

          Right behind you…or in front of you running faster!

  • Dog owner

    This happened to my 40 lb terrier on the grounds of the Wardman Marriott. A small bird repeatedly pecked him on the bum… We were staying there while our floors were refinished. He was terrified to go outside to the bathroom! Fast forward a few years, my non-bird dog now pounces on poor birds in our yard and has managed to have a way with at least a couple. Nature.

  • Sherm

    I’m now vindicated for absolutely fearing those birds! Glad to know i’m not the only one that has been dive bombed by this type of bird! I would have to run down the street with my dog trailing behind (she’s not a runner) when walking by the Salvation Army at Sherman and Monroe!

  • LA

    It’s an instinctual thing that they’re born to do (per other people’s note). Certainly not maliciously intended, just trying to protect their nest. As you would if a strange person came up to your baby in it’s stroller.

  • Loga_Rez1234

    Agree with the other commenters. Definitely a mockingbird, there is probably a nest somewhere nearby. There is one on 16th st heading towards the white house that follows me and my pitt mix for 2-3 blocks usually and will occasionally dive bomb her. She mostly ignores it and it seems pretty harmless other that its horrible squawking. I find it kind of funny. It also happened to us last year near the Australian embassy on scott circle.

  • Jeni

    Between 7th and 8th on St st, and on the corner of 14th and S there are two merciless birds doing the same thing. The latter will follow you and your dog for 2 blocks


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