We're besieged by birds here along our little stretch of sidewalk
on Glenoaks Boulevard. A family of small, black birds has set up
house in a bush outside the building and they're guarding it
The first attack was June 10, when we heard shrieking outside and
then a woman burst into the Leader office, exclaiming that she'd been
pecked on the head by a bird. We sympathetically nodded, handed her a
paper and sent her back out. We even joked when gadfly and frequent
Leader letter-writer R.C. "Chappy" Czapiewski was divebombed,
laughing that we'd trained the birds to attack him.
That was before they came after us.
Ryan Carter, the Leader's crime and court reporter, was our first
-- and so far, most frequent -- victim. I chuckled when he recounted
Then I got thumped -- three times -- in one day. I was on my way
to pick up lunch when I felt the first tap; I thought something had
fallen out of a nearby tree. I turned around to a bird flapping in my
face. On instinct, I raised my hand to shoo it away and thought, "My
luck, I'll smack the bird and some animal rights activist will see it
and not believe I was acting in self-defense."
So instead, I ran to the crosswalk with this bird hovering over
me, thumping my head with its beak, greatly amusing passing drivers.
After that, we got tough. We called city offices, but it turns out
there isn't much to be done. Animal control workers, along with city
ombudsman Bob Kramer, came by one morning, but said they can't move
the nest with its eggs and that's what the birds are guarding.
We're not so sure that's the reason for their hostility -- one
theory is that the birds are truly upset with us. We've given a lot
of coverage to the Burbank Animal Shelter, with all its cuddly cats
and furry puppies. The birds of this city have been overlooked and
now they're wreaking havoc for that slight.
Any morning now, I expect to see a picket line of birds circling
our front door, pulling banners with slogans like, "The Burbank
Leader dumps on birds" and "The pecking order starts here."
We had no plans to change our coverage (frankly, we have few bird
readers, although there's no telling how many of them read the paper
lining their birdcages) unless the birds did something truly
newsworthy. But enough's enough -- uncle already! Birds, you're
finally getting a mention in the paper. Hopefully, this will be
enough to get the little buggers to let up -- but if not, we suggest
anyone who wants a paper, come into our building through the back
entrance and keep your head down.
* Amber Willard is the city editor of the Burbank Leader. Reach
her at (818) 843-8700 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.