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Blackbirds Attack Calif. Town’s Residents

July 14, 2006

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) _ There’s pecking disorder in the city. Brewer’s blackbirds, apparently protecting their young during nesting season, are swooping down and attacking the heads of pedestrians.

``On a bad day, we get about 15 attacks an hour,″ Nautical Bean coffee house business manager Brett Jones said. ``I thought about naming a coffee after them.″

Customers are often seen flailing their hands over their heads as they walk toward the Laguna Village Shopping Center cafe.

Last week, while walking into the Nautical Bean Espresso Cafe, customer Charlie Magnuson felt tiny claws tug on his peppered hair.

``Once you’ve been scratched,″ he said, ``it does scare you a little. But not really, because they won’t go for your eyes. I think it’s a fun thing as long as no one gets hurt.″

Wildlife experts said the birds are simply protecting their young. Capt. David Fox of the California Department of Fish and Game said the behavior is a common defense mechanism.

Once nesting season is over at the end of summer, the harassment of Nautical Bean patrons will likely stop, he said.

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