SEATTLE, June 19 (UPI) -- Hold on to your toupees, it's that time of year, again -- crow strafing season.
It's an late spring, early summer tradition. Crows, having just relinquished their young ones to the dangers of the outside world, keep a close and protective watch on the newly fledged.
Should an unsuspecting human come too close to one of those still vulnerable young crows, expect a swoop and a dive from above. Adult crows use the technique to scare away intruders and potential predators.
Wildlife Professor John Marzluff says he gets calls about swooping crows in and around Seattle every year.
"It really peaks about now, when the young crows are just starting to leave the nest on their own, and the parents are watching over them," Marzluff told local public radio station KUOW. "The young aren't very good at flying and hiding yet, so they come in close contact with people."
Mostly, the swooping is harmless -- meant to scare, not to injure. But the crows occasionally make contact.
"We had crows literally come down and tap me on the head, trying to scare me," one Seattle man told the radio station. "Another one pecked me in the eyebrow. I've even dropped the mail, believe it or not, and ran."
In a few weeks, experts say, the young birds will be better able to fly, and parents will be less protective.
Until then, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has some ideas for protection: "If you must walk past a nest, wave your arms slowly overhead to keep the birds at a distance. Other protective actions include wearing a hat or helmet, or carrying an umbrella."
But avoid wearing or carrying a bright red hat or umbrella; you might get swarmed by hummingbirds.