Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.

Another form of street harassment. Or how I found out I resemble a dead neighbor.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about harassment of women on transit and bikes, but haven’t found the time. Today I faced a different type of harassment as a pedestrian. I was walking back home from dropping my car off for service and suddenly felt something grabbing at my head from behind. Assuming it was a person, I verbalized something short of a scream and turned around to see a crow flying away. “Yeah, that’s what it felt like, a crow’s claws grabbing my scalp,” I thought. But I could not figure out why. Then, about an hour later, on the way to the bus stop, right around the corner from the first attack, it happened again. That time there was a woman a few feet away with her dogs who saw what happened. I remarked that that was the second time it happened to me that morning. In the neighborly Portland way, she explained to me that a former neighbor had befriended a crow, and that ever since she died, the crow has been looking for her. Crows apparently remember faces, and I must resemble her. Well, mystery solved. But, what am I to do every time I walk to the grocery store, bus, etc. – clearly in this crow’s territory? Particularly since there is research that this face recognition is passed between crows? I did some internet searching and found a project in Vancouver, BC that lets people report such altercations and maps them. The mentions of drawing blood in the story have me a little more concerned. Perhaps my bike helmet has another use.  What’s your crow story?

I promise to write about the more serious form of street harassment very soon!