It’s a story my children love to tell, the time when their normally gentle, mild mannered mother grabbed a young man by the collar and threw him up against the brick wall of their elementary school gymnasium. It happened almost 12 years ago, but my adult children still get a sparkle in their eye when they tease me about the incident. An older high school student had come onto the school grounds and was roughly shoving some of the young girls as they waited for the bus. I asked him to stop, but it only elevated the situation and his belligerence and threatening behavior sprung something in me that unleashed a mother-bear response. In a pure mode of reflexive action, I grabbed the young fellow by the scruff of his shirt and had him up fast to the brick wall. I stood on tip-toes to get as close as I could to his startled face and said something to the effect of, “THAT BEHAVIOR IS NOT APPROPRIATE AROUND HERE. YOU NEED TO LEAVE!”
I was reminded of the scene the other day when I was birding. I had stepped off the boardwalk to walk a dike that runs along the north side of North Creek Park wetland area. The dike provides protection from flooding to a number of homes in the area and during the winter it provides a great birding spot with access to viewing the ponds at the northwest corner. A few days ago I noticed some waterfowl in the back corner and decided to take the short dike walk and get a closer look. As I walked along the dike, I absently made note of the killdeer in the north barnyard field. Intent on the back ponds, it didn’t really register that the killdeer were growing more and more frantic until one of them finally jumped up onto the dike, positioned itself about six feet in front of me and began screaming in my direction. In my mind I could imagine her tiny toes grasping at my shirt collar and her cries became very clear, “That behavior is not appropriate around here. You need to leave!” Fully chastised, I retraced my steps and vowed to keep clear of the nesting areas for the next several weeks.
I would suggest the following two take-home messages, don’t mess with mom and for now be sensitive to the nesting birds as you travel through North Creek Park wetlands.