Two women in eastern P.E.I. were shocked recently while out for a run in the woods when a grouse burst out of the trees and began chasing them back down the trail.
Brittany Ross and her friend Sarah were out for an evening run in the woods behind the Souris Ski Lodge when they saw something coming towards them. Initially they couldn't tell what it was.
"We first thought it was a coyote, so we were already kind of running," said Ross.
The chase continued down the trail.
tried to take flight at the back of my legs and attack, so I pepper sprayed it," said Ross.
Dwaine Oakley, a wildlife expert at Charlottetown's Holland College, said the avian attacker was almost certainly a grouse. A member of the chicken family, grouse are fairly common on P.E.I. There are two species on the Island. The ruffed grouse is native, and lives in forests. The sharp-tailed grouse, introduced in the 1980s, lives in open fields and along beaches.
This is not the first time Oakley has heard about someone being attacked.
"This is a fairly common occurrence," he said.
"Anyone that spends any amount of time out in the woods, I mean, you can expect it."
Most of the time these attacks turn out to be a female in defence of her chicks, but it can also be a male attacking to protect its territory.
The warm, dry weather this year is good for grouse, and the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation believes there are more around than usual.
Oakley doesn't recommend pepper spray when faced with an angry bird. Most of the time, he said, running away is your best option.
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