Murder of crows dive-bombing Everett residents, police

EVERETT, Wash. -- If there's a bird on a wire by the Everett Police Department - beware.

Officers there are on the lookout for an attacker - two attackers, to be exact.

Suspects' description: one male, one female, last seen ambushing officers and people on the street right in front of the cop shop. Even the chief herself has been a victim.

"It was scary," said police Chief Kathy Atwood, "so we keep an eye out and are trying to be respectful of their environment."

"It seems to be (that they're attacking) our officers that don't have quite as much hair," she joked, laughing. "I'm not quite sure what's up with that."

Atwood has a hot lead on what the motive might be, since the biggest clue showed up right outside her office window: three baby crows, perched in a nest, born just a few weeks ago.

Since then, officers and pedestrians report being dive-bombed by several adult crows outside the police department's headquarters at Wetmore and Wall. The crows are likely shielding newborn birds in a nearby tree from what they perceive to be as threats, said University of Washington Professor John Marzluff.

"If you're coming to and from this building, you have no idea. There could be a baby crow hiding in this bush," said Marzluff, who has studied crow behavior for more than 35 years. "(The adult crows) are going to come down and dive-bomb you, possibly even hitting you on the head. They're not defending their territory. They're protecting their young."

On Wednesday afternoon, crows dive-bombed two men walking in front of the police department in rapid succession. One of the men waved his hand at his head afterwards, looked up, and smiled.

"They have no respect for law enforcement it appears either," joked Atwood, about her officers being attacked.

Marzluff expects the behavior to continue for at least another week or more, judging by the size of the young birds in the nest. After that, he said, the birds would likely be grown enough to be mobile, and so the adult birds would be less likely to be defending the young.

"If you can, avoid the area where it's known that there's a situation like this that occurs," he recommended. "If it's at the front of your house, which it often can be, use an umbrella."