There's a tiny, adorable bully lurking in the shadows of Toronto's parks and nature trails. It's name is the Red Wing Black Bird, and it's notorious for committing a spree of random attacks on innocent civilians this time of year.
The city's starting to respond by posting warning signs all over Toronto that say, "Beware of Red Wing Black Birds. Birds may exhibit aggressive behaviour." The signs also feature an image of the tiny black birds, with their signature red wings and sharp-looking beaks.
But, the birds aren't attacking people for no reason. It's nesting season, and they're aggressively protective of their eggs. The birds usually build their nests on low ground, like shrubs and ditches. Which makes it too easy for humans to get close.
One Torontonian recounts the startling moment when she was pecked on the head by a Red Wing Black Bird a few years ago. She says that, while the birds may only weigh about 50 grams, they peck with a lot of force. "It feels like the other end of a small hammer," she says.
Another woman claims that she refuses to walk her dog without a towel in her hand to shoo the birds away. "They're very vicious. They dive right into you," she says.
The Red Wing Black Birds lays their eggs all over the city, even the downtown core. They're spotted frequently in the Queens Quay and Lakeshore areas, and around the Billy Bishop airport.
But, fear not. Other than a quick peck on the head, the birds are completely harmless. Just beware of posted signs, and keep a hat with you just in case.