An Ottawa cyclist says a surprise attack by a Canada goose left her with a concussion and fractured cheekbone, and a renewed respect for nature.
Kerry Surman was riding along the Trans Canada Trail from her home in the south Ottawa neighbourhood of Stittsville to Carleton Place, Ont., on June 10 when she came across a family of geese crossing the bike path.
Surman saw two adult geese and a gaggle of goslings cross before one final adult goose made its way through the trail, and she figured the path was clear.
"I thought, 'If I just zip past I'll be fine,'" Surman said. "But I misjudged how fast I was going and the goose misjudged my intentions.
"What I remember is the goose giving me the evil eye and then the goose wrapping its wings around my head, and I can't see and I hear myself screaming," she said.
The next thing Surman remembered was that she was lying on the ground and having difficulty getting up.
With her face swollen after the attack, she tried to flag down a cyclist or passerby to help, and eventually was aided by Steve Wilkens, a pastor at the All Nations Church in Sandy Hill. He called 911 and waited with her until an ambulance arrived.
Surman spent five days in hospital after suffering a concussion, fractured cheekbone, face lacerations including a scar under her eyebrow and loose teeth. She credits wearing a bike helmet and sunglasses with preventing more serious injuries.
Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources says geese attacks are rare, but the birds can be aggressive towards people and pets, and recommends avoiding any conflict with them.
Surman's husband, Todd Edwardson, said he and his wife had been riding three weeks earlier and faced a similar situation.
"We went by them. I guess we didn't startle them," said Edwardson. "So you just don't know, so always best to exercise some caution."
Surman said she is not physically ready to return to her bike, but when she does, she won't be taking any chances.
"You have to know they are going to attack if they feel threatened," she said.