Duck, and take cover!
Students at New Mexico State University have been advised to avoid a part of the campus where a family of hawks is currently nesting. According to local reports, the parent hawks are dive-bombing passersby who dare near the nesting spot.
The bird injured one student last week, spurring school officials to put up signs urging pedestrians to avoid the area.
"[J]ust out of nowhere, I got hit in the back of the head," Neva Williams, the NMSU student who was attacked, told KVIA-TV. "I couldn't believe it at first. I didn't think it could be a bird."
Williams said the blow was so powerful that she jolted forward. The attack left her with a slash across her face.
At least five people have visited the campus health center in recent weeks after being attacked by the birds of prey.
"Most (patients) had small cuts or abrasions on their head, and one patient was struck hard enough that he had mild post-concussion symptoms," Dr. Benjamin Diven, the health center's medical director, told Las Cruces Sun-News. "He had some dizziness, nausea and a little difficulty concentrating. It was a pretty good blow."
In a news release, university officials said the family of Swainson's hawks do not pose a serious threat and encouraged students and faculty to avoid the grounds surrounding the nest.
"They’ll go through their nesting cycle and then they’ll move on," Martha Desmond, professor in the department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, said in the statement.
Desmond expects the birds will leave campus within the next three weeks to migrate south for the winter.
The airborne assaults may come as no surprise to bird enthusiasts. After all, predatory fowl are known to be very protective over their young. Earlier this year, two red-shouldered hawks dive-bombed several library patrons in Port Orange, Florida, after nesting in a nearby tree.