A female pedestrian keeps a wary eye on the winged attackers in the First Gulf Bank area on Shaikh Zayed Road. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News

Dubai: Customers visiting a bank on Shaikh Zayed Road here are ducking for cover because pesky birds are dive-bombing them. And the attackers are common mynas nesting nearby.

“The first time it happened, the bird actually dove into my head and dug its claws onto my head. I had a headache for a whole day after that,” Lujain — not her real name — a 45-year-old South African expatriate told Gulf News.

And all the psychologist was trying to do was get money from the bank. “I thought maybe it was just a freak incident, a bird that was distressed. But it has attacked me at least half a dozen times now. Once it chased me and followed me right into the bank.” She almost fell on the ground twice on two other occasions she was attacked.

In another instance, Lujain said she went with her mother to the bank and it attacked both of them.

“I just got out of the car and it came for me. It pecked me quite a few times in the head and I drove it away with my hands and I crossed the road,” Lujain’s 70-year-old mother, said. “When I crossed the road, it came back again and attacked me on my head. I had little scratches, that’s all.”

Arlene, a photographer who works in the area, said she has been attacked twice this past month. “What bothers me is why they attack only women?”

Maybe it’s a case of birds of a feather flocking together?

Arlene said she was once walking with an African colleague who was six months pregnant when a myna (Acridotheres tristis) swooped down and attacked her. “She kept running for cover and almost crossed the busy road without thought because she was scared. I had to drive the bird away and calm her down.”

"Following complaints of bird attacks near the FGB Shaikh Zayed Road Branch, we have completed a thorough investigation and found no traces of birds or bird nests at FGB premises. Bird nests have been located elsewhere in the local area and FGB is taking measures to prevent birds from perching on its site," First Gulf Bank said in an email.

Dr Reza Khan, specialist, wildlife and zoo management, Public Parks and Horticulture Department of Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News that common mynas only attack people on two occasions: when they have a nest nearby or when it sees food. “It usually attacks the smaller person, usually children, or in this case, women. But they are not determined attackers. You can easily drive them away.”

Dr Khan said removing or relocating the bird nests could solve the problem and one must ensure open spaces are closed so birds would not nest there again.

Mynas are originally from the subcontinent and Indonesia. Collectors and pet traders brought them to the country. In other countries like Australia, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has tagged mynas as among the world’s 100 most invasive species and has been assigned an extreme threat category for Australia.