Travel Adventures in Tropical Marianas Island of Guam by Cindy Doan

You’re invited to join me for a morning jog… Just be prepared for a possible attack from above!

Actually, possible attack from above, from below, from the right, from the left, and especially from the rear. It’s a bird; it’s a plane– No! It’s the Black Drongo! The Black Drongo is a large, loud, black bird that has absolutely no fear of humans. This flying object is exclusive to the Marianas Islands. It has some distinct characteristics; such as a shiny black coat with a long split “v” shaped tail. The Black Drongo, also known as the King Crow, rocks and rules on the Marianas!

Last summer when I first arrived on Guam, a few friends were sharing comical stories of fighting off birds as they jogged. Their humorous conversation continued about how difficult it was to avoid these fast and furious birds. It seemed like they were trying to see who could tell the biggest “I’ve almost been hit by a killer bird” story. To avoid a head-on collision with this flying torpedo, they would bend over, dash to the side, or simply, “hit the deck!”

This summer I have discovered that the bird conversation I heard last year was not exaggerated the least little bit! The Black Drongos fly like fighter planes – swift and sharp. Their mating season is from April to August. Each female will usually has 3-5 eggs that are colored white with brown spots. The black Drongos are very protective of their nests, and will attack anything even near the vicinity. And yes! I’ve also been the victim of the King Crow’s aerobatics!

The last time I ran outside, the King Crows just about scared me to death! There were six of them after me! I ran inside a neighbor’s carport, and PASTED myself against the wall! But the crows stayed after me, swooping in as closely as they could. The Black Drongos finally backed me all the way up into the corner with — nowhere else to go!!!

I wanted a car to pass by so badly! I was going to yell, “HELP!” “STOP!” “WAIT! Please give me a ride home!” Even though I never ride with strangers, I felt totally desperate! Unfortunately, after five frightful minutes of being pinned up in the corner, no one passed. These same six crows would not leave! They continuously swooped inside that carport and right toward my face! Can you imagine being so frightened — by a bird?

Being pinned into that corner, scared out of my wits, I finally decided to make a run for it! But, it was not without being noticed! For, I was followed, chased. I even had to “hit the deck” to avoid being hit as I ran as fast I could go a-l-l-l the way back home! I must have looked like super woman! I was flying; however, not near as fast as the King Crows! I was scared! I did make it home safely and unharmed, but I’ve since opted to use our indoor treadmill until the King Crows’ mating season is over!

So as a visitor to Guam, you might notice some very odd behavior in the summer months. Recently I passed a tall, six-foot man running… with a golf club. This man had me curious because he was not running anywhere near the golf course. The next time I passed this man I asked him if that club was for the crows? His response was, “Exactly!”

a0286650It would seem that the size of a human being alone would intimidate such a comparatively small black bird, but oddly enough– it’s the other way around! These birds set themselves up to approach a pedestrian directly at eye level! The jogger becomes the hunted, haunted prey, running faster and faster to escape. But the stalker is always faster. He can win a yelling contest, a daredevil contest, and perhaps even beat the Island’s best runner. This sleek, shiny, squawking bird does present a danger to pedestrians. Even if it doesn’t make contact — the shock of a King Crow making very loud noises and flying at a high speed, directly toward your head, has the potential to give you heart failure or at least make you wet your shorts.

Don’t worry if you see a jogger one minute, and not the next! For just as suddenly as the pedestrian vanished, they will re-appear and continue jogging as if nothing had ever happened. What? The runner was simply “hitting the deck” as a last resort before being beamed in the face by a Black Drongo. YES! You could witness a human being overtaken by the fearless bird! The best you can do in this situation is to have a good sense of humor to laugh “with” the pedestrian who is now humiliated from “hitting the deck” in a King Crow attack.

The Black Drongo has no fear of humans, cars, or animals. They’re among the first birds to wake up in the morning and the last birds to retire in the evening. They eat mostly insects and sometimes even lizards, and drink nectar from flowers. The most common places to find the Drongos are perched on telephone lines, atop bare trees, or flying straight for your face!

Visitors, beware of the Black Drongo! Even if you’re on vacation to get away from the calendar and the phone — The King Crow is on the prowl, and he’ll find your number!