Crows rarely attack people. While they’re quite willing to scold you from a safe distance if you do something to upset them, they almost never physically attack you- at worst, they’ll swoop over your head without touching you.
This rule does not apply during the nesting season.
During the spring and summer months, most crows are occupied with the monumental task of taking care of their young- and they’re good parents! After building their nest, they spend 3 weeks incubating eggs, and another month or so diligently bringing their nestlings food and protecting them from the elements and hungry predators.
In the US, the parents are especially stressed between late-May and early-July; their young have left the nest, but can’t fly very well. On top of that, these young crows are still very naïve about the world, and don’t know to flee from dangerous animals. The parents become incredibly protective of their kids during this time, aggressively attacking any animal that comes too close. These attacks serve the dual purpose of driving dangerous predators away and teaching their young about danger.
If you come under attack by a dive bombing crow, there’s almost always a young crow or nest nearby. You can make the attacks stop by moving away from the scene- cross the street, turn around, or hurry through. If you can’t change your route (perhaps this happens at your home), you can protect yourself with an umbrella or by slowly waving your arms around your head. If you’re too embarrassed to swing an umbrella around in public (I won’t judge), you can try facing your attacker; crows usually strike from behind, and are reluctant to dive-bomb a dangerous animal from the front. One trick that works surprisingly well is to wear a pair of sunglasses on the back of your head- many crows have a hard time figuring out which direction you’re actually looking.
The parents become less aggressive as their kids become stronger fliers and more fearful of danger, so most attacks in the US stop by mid-July. Try not to take these attacks personally. After all, these are just good parents trying their best to keep their kids safe. We shouldn’t begrudge them that.
Image credits: Bryan Lacie designed the stick figure graphic, Kevin McGowan photographed the babies in the nest, the person covering his head is from KCPQ-TV, and the the eagle-rider was taken by Barry Scott. The 2 photos in the center are mine. Click on any image to be taken to its parent website.