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eolon 07-06-2009 09:38 AM

When birds attack
So, anyhow, it was a lovely morning, with a favorable little breeze, so I decided to go out and do some single-handed sailing.

I am wandering around the boat, preparing to leave, when I notice three little swallows on the jib sheet, staring at me. I also notice what is obviously their Mom, sitting on the dock post, REALLY staring at me:

I cautiously avoid getting too close to the babies, and let go the lines, and slowly head out towards the river.

The babies are not interested in flying off. I'm not sure they CAN fly.
At this point, Mom swallow notices, with some alarm, that her babies are getting further and further away from her protective custody, for some reason.

Meanwhile, the babies and I are getting further and further from the dock. Mom is getting more and more distressed about this.

Her motherly instincts eventually kick in, and she realizes that this baby-leaving phenomena probably has something to do with the ugly monster in the little floating island, and she decides the only way to remedy the situation is to attempt to kill the evil monster that is making off with her progeny.

I am lucky I was wearing my floppy hat. I imagine it would be painful to have that pointy beak driven into my skull.

After much shrieking (Mom bird) and yelling and waving of hands (the monster) the babies have had enough, and fly off to somewhere less noisy.

With a last scornful dive at my head, the victorious Mom flew off to console her poor infants, and that's when I notice that in the general hullabaloo I had neglected the helm and was now headed directly for some big, pointy rocks.

I recovered in time to enjoy some nice sailing, but when I returned to the marina later that afternoon, I did a slow pass by my slip to check for, ahem, lodgers, before landing.

True story!

Best Regards,



samw51 07-06-2009 10:50 AM

Used to have swallows in the boathouse I used...just had to move quickly if they start dive bombing!

WanderingStar 07-06-2009 11:42 AM

Next time get warblers, they are friendlier. Two came aboard (at different times) on my Fl-NY trip. One rested on my foot while I tried to identify him from the bird book.

Joesaila 07-06-2009 05:11 PM

Nice story!
Next time use the hat to force the youngsters off. They probably enjoyed pushing mommy's buttons. I just put my great horned owl up a couple of days ago. I'm in a place where terns are known to obliterate boats.

paulk 07-06-2009 06:45 PM

One year we had swallows build a nest in the stern tube that holds the MOB pole. Luckily we sail Wednesdays as well as weekends, so there wasn't enough time for them to lay any eggs before we figured out why we were being followed by swallows instead of Mother Carey's Chickens.

eolon 07-06-2009 08:04 PM

These swallows infest the undersides of the floating docks, which is why we have a large population of big Lake Erie water snakes - the eggs and babies are within easy reach of the snakes while the snakes are in the water.

It is fun to watch the swallows dive-bomb a 4-foot snake, who is swimming in high gear for all he's worth!

The swallows and white air rats figured out the old inflatable owl trick a long time ago. They still seem afraid of tin pie plates, though - plus the pie plates give your slip that nice, homey, trailer-trash ambience.

Best Regards,



sailingdog 07-07-2009 08:35 AM

LOL... be very careful...swallows have long memories.....:)

patrickrea 07-10-2009 08:25 AM

The swallows LOVE just hanging out on my lifelines when I am dockside particularily just aft of the pulpit. I end up having to scrub the decks everyday. Nothing has worked yet for getting rid of them.

damies 07-10-2009 08:56 AM


My daughters adventure up the mast was due to a largish bird landing on my wind indicator and bending it 90ļ (not much use if its pointing down :)) Interestingly every sail boat in the river had the same issue....

Before this just after I bought this boat I had 3 micro bats that loved to sleep in that mainsail under the covers. I tied a small line around the end to prevent that, but have since moved the boat to a new mooring.

Every area has it's own unique wildlife issues, best advice i can give is look around at the other boats in your area and see what others are doing, and look to see who has the cleanest decks.

I didn't mind the bats, but didn't like the bat poo on my sail.


rayncyn51 07-10-2009 08:59 AM

There was a similar situation at our marina last weekend invoving several ducklings, mama duck, and an older couple trying to board their boat. Fortunately, the fracas broke out before they left the slip.

Then there's this other sailboat across the way which has several CDs hanging from the rigging... I'm assuming (hoping?) this is a bird deterrent.

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