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Name: Jennifer M.
Status: educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 8/2/2004


Question:
I was just attacked by a barred owl this evening and a Google search led me to your site (since there have been other questions on this topic). I was walking quietly down a wooded park trail by myself and the owl whooshed over my head but did not touch me. This was a very cool experience - I enjoy seeing the owls in the park where I walk, but had never had one come close. I covered my head with my arms and walked backwards, observing the owl at its perch. After a minute or two, I decided it would be ok to turn around and kept walking. It came again and this time grabbed my hair with its talons and gave me a tiny scrape on my scalp. What is the explanation? This is in NE Ohio and its very late in the year for there to be a nest. I did nothing to provoke the owl. I was wearing my hair in a knot, that may have looked like a small mammal, but the behavior seems more like a warning/territory defense to me. I am a naturalist by profession, and walk this park almost daily. I have always believed that "if you do no bother it, it will not bother you" until now!


Replies:
Barred Owls are fairly aggressive when it comes to protecting their young, but not in late summer. However, I must admit that I have never heard of a Barred Owl being so aggressive. I have handled and studied many of these creatures and for the most part they are timid. Another possibility is that the owl may have been physically or mentally ill and this aggressive behavior may have been unnaturally caused as a result of the illness. Mice for one group do weird things when they are ill or when there are too many of them in an area.

Steve Sample


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