West Seattle wildlife: Divebombing owl reported in local park

You know Lincoln Park is home to owls (wonderful past proof includes this). You know owls sometimes dive-bomb humans (past anecdotes include this). Tonight, just out of the WSB inbox … an owl-attack report from Lincoln Park, courtesy of “Fauntlee Hill Bill“:

Had the head phones on and was enjoying a beautiful Labor Day eve twilight jog along the Lincoln Park bluff trail in the NW corner of the park. Encountered a few dog walkers and runners along the way but was momentarily alone when all of a sudden out of nowhere I felt a scrape along the top of my head.

Bill’s story continues ahead:

Not painful, but scared the bejeezus out of me. I thought either somebody threw something or snuck up and whacked me on the noggin. Spun around and saw nothing. Turned forward again in time to see a pretty good sized set of wings coming at me for round two. Waved my arms and yelled at it. It being an owl. It retreated to a nearby branch and started on dive bomb #3 but I now had a stick and was flailing about so he (or I’m betting “she”) thought better of it and flew to another branch to check me out. Should have snapped its pic but I didn’t want to get close enough to piss it off anymore.

No, I wasn’t wearing a Hooters shirt, just a plain adidas white with black stripes. Saw somewhere on an old WSB post from an ornithologist that owls enjoy eating skunks and sometimes are confused by the stripes on running apparel. Mistook for a skunk? Nice. I’m going to go with that it was protecting its young, or perhaps it wasn’t digging my playlist.

Fauntlee Hill Bill

10 Replies to "West Seattle wildlife: Divebombing owl reported in local park"

  • westseattledood September 5, 2011 (11:18 pm)

    Oh, Fauntlee Hill Bill,

    I do *not* mean to laugh at *you*, but this did make me chuckle, kind of. Good no skin was broken or anything like that.

    I’ll just step right up and be the first to speculate about this bird’s behavior. I know many other amateur opinions will follow, so bare with…

    If you aren’t being mistaken for a skunk(!), maybe it’s just a juvenile figuring out the practical limits on potential prey. Are you bald with a shiny head, by any chance? Maybe they like shiny things? ;)

    I know. I’m grasping for an explanation. But that’s what we do on WSB.:D

  • Dara September 6, 2011 (1:29 am)

    Bill, I had a similar experience this evening, it may have even been the same bird. This one lives near the wading pool at the north end of the park.

    I agree, it can sound funny, but it isn’t always a laughing matter. The internet shows stories over many years in which people have had their faces cut up and eyes injured due to these attacks. Seems the Barred owl has attack reports around Washington and even from Vancouver, BC.
    That is the kind of owl that attacked my head this evening while running in Lincoln Park around 7:30pm. Just a good knock to my head, no real piercing from the talons. To avoid any more trouble, advice on the net is to wear bright hats, avoid pony tails and mind the hour at which you run. Seems these young owls are learning to hunt usually during this month and part of next, September and October, so be aware and be careful if you have small children or dogs.

    Despite a bump and a good scare, I’m happy the owls are still around. I will just avoid their turf for a while. :)

  • msc September 6, 2011 (8:53 am)

    You are a great story teller Bill!!

  • Trileigh September 6, 2011 (9:26 am)

    Oh cool! I’m sorry that folks are getting dive-bombed, but so happy that the owl’s around and active. Will have to go look for her/him tonight…wearing protective headgear!

  • Fauntlee Hill Bill September 6, 2011 (10:28 am)

    Relieved to hear you folks think it’s a rookie and not one skilled at recognizing where best to “thin the herd”.

  • Jordan September 6, 2011 (10:54 am)

    May have to head up there with the camera and long lens. Always good to have pics of the owls.

  • B-squared September 6, 2011 (12:07 pm)

    Perhaps it isn’t a juvenile. i was under the impression that the Lincoln Park owls did not produce offspring this year.

    I did enjoy their surprise appearance at the end of one of the “Shakespeare in the Park” performances of “Antony and Cleopatra” this year. I don’t think the line “Who cooks for you?” was penned by the Bard (Barred?).

  • Trileigh September 6, 2011 (1:12 pm)

    Hah, B-squared, thanks for reminding me about that “Bard Owl!” I thought it was a hoot (sorry) that s/he showed up towards the end like s/he was a character in the play.

    Yes, that’s right, the Lincoln Park Barred Owls didn’t produce offspring this year, but it is possible that a juvenile from elsewhere in West Seattle, or even beyond, is considering claiming this as its territory. However, I’m not sure that a juvenile Barred Owl is more likely to divebomb a person than adult owl, so it might just be one of our regulars. Perhaps it felt threatened by a hawk or some other predator, so was a bit more irritable than usual?

  • DF September 6, 2011 (2:02 pm)

    I’m sorry I can’t hear a damn thing! What did you say? Bird what bird, oh those things make noises?

  • ltfd September 8, 2011 (12:04 am)

    Owls are silent in flight, due to the evolutionary adaptations of their flight feathers.


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