November 9, 2012

Ornery owls protect their territory by attacking unsuspecting hikers

A Barred Owl on show at Arizona Renaissance Fe...
A Barred Owl on show at Arizona Renaissance Festival, Apache Junction, Arizona, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A section of trail in Soaring Eagle Park near Sammamish, Wash., remains closed after a number of reports of attacks by an aggressive owl, according a KING5 report. Another woman was attacked in Bridle Trails State Park near Kirkland, Wash., last weekend.

The birds are believed to be barred owls, which can be aggressive in defending their territory. Warning signs were posted a few years ago at Saint Edward State Park near Kirkland after similar incidents.
"It felt like a sharp tearing, stinging, feeling in the back," said Celina Calado. "He grabbed both sides of my pony tail with his claw." The owl then flew away to a tree. Calado was bleeding from scratches to her head and went to the emergency room.

With at least six attacks, parts of Soaring Eagle Park in Sammamish are now closed to the public, according to the report.
Barred Owl
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife believes the owls responsible are young ones and are territorial about their new nesting spot.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Barred Owls are large, stocky owls with rounded heads, no ear tufts, and medium length, rounded tails. Their feathers are mottled brown and white overall. The underparts are mostly marked with vertical brown bars on a white background, while the upper breast is crossed with horizontal brown bars. The wings and tail are barred brown and white. Their eyes are dark brown, almost black.

Barred Owls roost quietly in forest trees during the day, though they can be heard calling in daylight hours. At night they hunt small animals, especially rodents, and give an instantly recognizable “Who cooks for you?” call.

Barred Owls live in large, mature forests made up of both deciduous trees and evergreens, often near water. They nest in tree cavities. In the Northwest, Barred Owls have moved into old-growth coniferous forest, where they compete with the threatened Spotted Owl. More aggressive than Spotted Owls, Barred Owls are suspected to be driving Spotted Owls from the old growth habitat.

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