West Seattle wildlife: Beware the owls of Bonair?

December 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm | In West Seattle news, Wildlife | 35 Comments

Pretty sure this is the first owl-attack report we’ve received in our five years of WSB’ing. Just out of the the inbox, from CS:

Just thought it of interest that my neighbor was attacked by an aggressive owl about 7:45 AM this morning as she was jogging up Bonair in North Admiral. The owl evidently grabbed at the top of her head. The neighbor said this was her second encounter with the Bonair owls. We were wondering if any other neighbors have had an encounter with the Bonair owls.

Rooting around for information on owl attacks, we came up with this 2006 story from the Seattle Times (WSB partner). No conclusions there as to why it happens – this isn’t even breeding season!


  1. WARNING, COMMENT READERS – a comment below contains what readers say is a “Harry Potter 7″ spoiler. DO NOT SCROLL FURTHER if that is a concern! ::note – time stamp edited on this comment solely to make sure it appears at the top of the thread so this warning is seen before it’s too late:: – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:28 pm December 7, 2010 #

  2. A friend was recently attacked by an owl while on an evening jog in Ballard as well. Scratched his head up pretty good – although not requiring medical attention. Maybe they’re planning some kind of hostile takeover.

    Comment by johnny Davies — 2:30 pm December 7, 2010 #

  3. There must have been a baby owl or something around because that is not normal owl behavior!

    Comment by Noelle — 2:52 pm December 7, 2010 #

  4. Wow. O.ld W.orld L.eaders Maybe the animals are staging a revolt.

    Comment by Vanessa — 2:54 pm December 7, 2010 #

  5. [insert scary music here]


    Comment by CarryingAnUmbrella — 2:56 pm December 7, 2010 #

  6. Bonair Owls – great name for a band…

    Comment by Rod — 3:13 pm December 7, 2010 #

  7. the owls know its time for revolution !!!!!

    Comment by michael — 3:23 pm December 7, 2010 #

  8. The fact that the Owl in the HP7 book/movie gets it has enraged the Owl community!

    They all have black patches on the wings that read:
    RIP Hedwig.

    Do NOT mess with these distressed avians! They will turn (their heads ~270 degrees) on you!

    In order to keep with our great Admin’s theme, he is an article called….(wait for it….)

    Coexisting with Owls:



    Comment by HolyKow — 3:37 pm December 7, 2010 #

  9. Up close and personal . . . While walking up Bonair Saturday dusk (Nov. 27th 4:45ish), about 200 feet from the top, was thunked on the head by an owl (Strix varia). Surprisingly, it swooped at me 5 or 6 more times, until I passed through the arching canopy near the top.

    Comment by JMICHAEL — 3:37 pm December 7, 2010 #

  10. I have heard of this happening with barred owls this time of year. It is quite common at Pioneer Park on Mercer island-

    Comment by lina rose — 4:00 pm December 7, 2010 #

  11. Hmm no personal attacks but late one night as I was coming home from work one of these owls was standing in the middle of the street picking at something. It didn’t give a hoot about my large noisy vehicle so I had to honk at it to move. Silly owl.

    Comment by Monosyllabic Girl — 4:01 pm December 7, 2010 #

  12. Hedwig dies?! Thanks a lot for the spoiler

    Comment by Jennifer — 4:20 pm December 7, 2010 #

  13. Monosyllabic Girl, love the name, the song, your owl story. :c)
    Holy Kow, Why would you spoil the new Harry Potter for us? *sniff, sniff* :c(

    Comment by Erik — 4:55 pm December 7, 2010 #

  14. Didn’t anybody read the HP7 book?? It’s been common knowledge for some time.

    Comment by Sandy — 5:04 pm December 7, 2010 #

  15. HK, I was going to look for a “coexisting with owls” but really didn’t think there could possibly be one. How ’bout that.

    Comment by WSB — 5:17 pm December 7, 2010 #

  16. Sandy,

    Not everyone has read all the HP books yet, for example kids that are just now getting old enough to read them and parents who are “saving” the experience of reading them so that they are new to reading them with their children.

    Be considerate of posting spoilers in places like this. It is really stinky to get sideswiped by a spoiler in a place like this.

    Comment by Que — 5:24 pm December 7, 2010 #

  17. Sandy,
    It is pretty ridiculous to assume that “everyone” has read book 7. I will be 30 years old soon and i havent read a single Harry Potter book and i dont plan to… i enjoy the movies, I was planning on going to see it this weekend actually.

    Que is on point, its really stinky to be sideswiped by a spoiler in a place like this.

    Comment by Jennifer — 5:43 pm December 7, 2010 #

  18. Barred Owls are well known for their occasional, mostly harmless, “attacks”. They usually happen in spring and fall. Birds apparently are feeling their oats (or hormones) this time of year.
    While I say “mostly harmless”, a naturalist (Eric Hosking, I think) in Europe lost an eye to an Eagle Owl many years ago. Their talons are tremendous. Barred Owls are not in that same size class, but I still wouldn’t want one swooping at *my* head. Simply keep moving if it happens to you and the owl should eventually tire of it. What fun eh!

    Comment by JumboJim — 6:32 pm December 7, 2010 #

  19. Maybe the owls are trying to deliver this evening’s post? Anyone ever think of that?

    Comment by toddinwestwood — 6:39 pm December 7, 2010 #

  20. What’s next? A woman running around in the trees carrying a log?

    Comment by Gina — 6:53 pm December 7, 2010 #

  21. Coffee and cherry pie for everyone. Shoofly still open at this hour?

    Comment by WSB — 6:56 pm December 7, 2010 #

  22. I thought an HP7 was a laser printer.

    Comment by WestSide45 — 7:20 pm December 7, 2010 #

  23. Beware of HippoGriffs. If you show no respect, BAM, you get the beak.

    Comment by ToddinWestwood — 7:36 pm December 7, 2010 #

  24. If the owls do indeed take over the world, we’ll all likely be forced to become nocturnal.


    Of course, that wouldn’t even faze the Editor of a certain Hyperlocal News Source! ;)



    Comment by miws — 7:45 pm December 7, 2010 #

  25. A few nights ago, probably around 8 pm or so, while about to cross the street at 61st and Stevens, an owl flew inches over my head and then veered up into a tree across the street. Didn’t touch me, but it startled me a bit. It happened so fast that I couldn’t tell what kind of owl it was.

    Comment by John M. — 7:56 pm December 7, 2010 #

  26. The owls are not what they seem …

    Comment by Sue — 8:59 pm December 7, 2010 #

  27. I’m wondering if there is a hair style link, as seen from above. Or do they just see a ball of hair moving and not the body attached to it?

    Comment by DM — 9:54 pm December 7, 2010 #

  28. I lived on a farm with a barn and a family of barn owls that occupied it. Whenever they had baby or young owls in their nest they would attack anything that came near– my dog, my cat and it tried to get me a couple of times. It didn;t matter the time of year…It’s a wild animal, probably just trying to protect it’s territory. Just beware! I’m pretty sure this is “normal” owl activity from my barn owl experiences!

    Comment by ttt — 10:02 pm December 7, 2010 #

  29. I love Twin Peaks and owls!

    Comment by kristina noir — 10:25 pm December 7, 2010 #

  30. Which reminds us … everyone who remembers the little Lincoln Park owl photographed by Trileigh will want to go see her photographs at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon) during Thursday night’s Art Walk. Gotta put up a separate story on that ASAP … TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:41 pm December 7, 2010 #

  31. Happens in Lincoln park all the time.

    Comment by Michael — 8:19 am December 8, 2010 #

  32. OMG! A spoiler about a book that came out two years ago? Next thing someone will tell us that those two wacky kids, Romeo and Juliet, end up dead! Er. Oops.

    Comment by Melissa — 10:36 am December 8, 2010 #

  33. Great Horned Owls/Barred Owls love to eat stripped skunks.

    reflective running hats/caps often have a stripped along the sides….like this example.


    Comment by Ornithologist — 1:32 pm December 9, 2010 #

  34. wow! This is more common than I thought. I was attacked by an owl two nights ago just up the woodsy gulch from Salty’s in West Seattle. I got out of the car while my husband parked to take a look at an owl that had swooped in front of us and landed in a tree just off the road. I’d never seen one in the city so thought it was pretty cool. I sat there for maybe 10 seconds and started off back up the road to my car when a felt a huge hit and scratch. At first I thought it was a branch falling on my head, but saw a large brown swooping above my head and jetted to my car. I practically dive bombed into the back seat. I ended up with a small scratch behind my ear and a nagging itchy/sore sensation on my head for the remainder of the night. I love owls and I’m certain that by standing too long near it’s ‘safety’ tree that I threatened it in some way. I still can’t believe it though. It was silent and fast!! My friend got most of it on surveillance video, mostly me running and the owl swooping away. It was HUGE.

    Comment by Erin — 7:03 pm December 17, 2010 #

  35. The owl just (just before 6:00 am) swooped at me while I was running down the alley between California and 42nd at Massachusetts in N Admiral. Took two passes, the second close enough to feel the wind off the wings. After both passes, it perched and looked at me, so it knew I wasn’t a skunk or a mouse. Quite bizarre.

    Comment by Steve — 6:14 am December 22, 2010 #

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