Amorous grouse terrorizes Alberta hikers on popular trail
Alberta Parks issues warning, says bird is acting aggressively 'due to mating season'
There's a creature chasing people through the woods of southern Alberta.
It has sharp talons, yellow eyebrows — and stands about 30 centimetres tall.
"I honestly didn't think anything of it," Andrea Barnes told the Calgary Eyeopener.
"Until he started to march towards us. And I mean march. His head was down; his wings were back. He was heading straight for us."
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The bird — a dusky grouse, also called a blue grouse — has been terrorizing people along the popular Montane Trail near the Town of Canmore.
Alberta Parks has issued a warning for the trail that says the male grouse is acting aggressively because it's mating season.
Barnes likened her encounter with the angry bird to a "showdown" in a Western movie.
To keep him at a distance and prevent him from pecking at her legs, she grabbed a stick.
"My girlfriends, on the other hand, their instinct was to start screaming and run up slope, away from me and the bird, and left me all alone."
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Then, without making eye contact, Barnes said she started gently talking to the grouse and walking backwards "to get out of his territory."
"Then I turned, and I ran for my life."
Barnes, who also happens to be an education specialist with Alberta Parks, said the town is "abuzz with bird talk" and has even heard stories about the menacing grouse going after cyclists on the trail.
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener