Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jogger Attacked by Aggressive Owl Yesterday Morning

We received an email from a reader, who is a morning jogger in the neighborhood, saying that yesterday morning at about  5:45am he "was grabbed on the head from behind by what turned out to be a good-sized owl" while out jogging near the UW. He wants others to be aware of this incident by sharing the details.

The email goes on to say:

"... over the course of the next 10 minutes, (the owl) took 2 more low level passes at me, but neither of those with contact. Interestingly, the owl followed me out of the park and watched me from overhead power lines as I departed. It was about a foot and a half tall, so, based on your description, probably a great horned.

I don't wear a hat on my head (I will be adding one for a while when I run), but I do wear a reflective vest. Not sure if that helped get the owl's attention.

My wife's inspection of my head later found no marks, so it was a pretty mild 'attack.'"

The reader sent this email to Patricia Thompson, a wildlife biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and whose name he found while searching owl attacks and had written a 2006 article in the Seattle Times on the subject. 

Patricia responded in her email to the reader:

"I apologize on behalf of the owl, it's a bit of a mystery as to why they exhibit what looks like nesting territoriality this time of year. It can be rough making it through the winter though, and they may be defending feeding territories, however, these owls usually move on and we are in the middle of fall migration.

Some of our Puget Sound owls stay the winter, some of the owls are migrants, so it is hard to tell. It may also have been a barred owl which have been recorded exhibiting this behavior as well.

Some people have experience these encounters two or three days in a row.  If you wait a few days, the owl will probably have moved on."

1 comment:

nate gowdy said...

my roommate had a harrowing experience very similar to this two years ago while jogging in a wooded park in washington, d.c.

guess it happens.