WILDLIFE FYI: Owl attack reported in Lincoln Park

Every few years, we get a report about a divebombing owl attacking someone. Last night, Kate sent this:

(Sunday) around 8 pm, I got attacked by an owl (probably barred owl). I think my high, very floppy bun was to blame. (Map of Lincoln Park location) This is exactly where I saw owls hang out in trees before. Anyway, just wanted to warn people to watch out when they run on that trail. I am all good, just a scratch on my ear.

This 2011 reader report is from the same time of year, same area of the park. This state Fish and Wildlife info sheet explains (though we’re not quite to winter yet), “In winter owls establish territories, build nests, and rear young. During this period, adult birds may engage in belligerent behavior, such as attacking creatures many times their size. In this case, the owls are simply trying to protect their homes, their mates, or their young.”

31 Replies to "WILDLIFE FYI: Owl attack reported in Lincoln Park"

  • heyalki August 31, 2020 (9:19 am)

    Off topic…but does anyone know if Arbor Heights dog days will happen this year?

    • Alice August 31, 2020 (5:45 pm)

      They’re going to have lap swim into September and October. Maybe after that?

  • Question Authority August 31, 2020 (10:00 am)

    The Owls were there long before we turned those woods into a park.  

    • Pat Finn September 1, 2020 (9:52 am)

      It’s our job as stewards of the earth to respect nature…  

  • Duffy August 31, 2020 (10:03 am)

    Interesting…do we suspect fOWL play? I know I know; owls are not fowl!

  • anonyme August 31, 2020 (10:40 am)

    Did anyone watch ‘The Staircase’ on Netflix?  It was an interesting true crime story.  The bottom line, which was not explored in depth in the series, is that the inebriated wife probably died after being attacked by an owl, then falling down the stairs and bleeding to death.  A freak accident. 

    • lox August 31, 2020 (2:15 pm)

      That was my first thought too! That case was intense. I listened to a podcast about the owl theory as well. It seems likely. He always presented as innocent in my eyes. 

    • It was the husband August 31, 2020 (5:56 pm)

      If you look up information against the owl theory, you’ll see it’s not very plausible. Its completely inconsistent with the blood at the scene. Not to mention his own attorney wouldn’t put it on as a theory. I did enjoy The Staircase though. 

  • HS August 31, 2020 (10:53 am)

    A “high and floppy bun” may, in fact, look like dinner from above!

  • C August 31, 2020 (1:15 pm)

    Another case of owl attack happened to me last spring (March I think).  I was running on the upper trails after dark with my headlamp and felt something lightly strike my head.  I thought it was a branch I hit that I had not seen, but then saw a large owl illuminated in my headlamp as it flew in front of me.  The owl flew up high into a tree where I could see him in my light.  He then came back at me several times but veered off when I waved my arms and yelled at him each time.  I did a bit of research and Barred Owl attacking humans is definitely a thing.  It happens and I am definitely more aware when running through that area.  

  • Lola August 31, 2020 (2:06 pm)

    Anonyme,  I did I found it facinating about the Owl.  If I remember correctly even tho they brought up the Owl Theory did they not convict the Husband of her Murder?  So it was the Next Door Neighbor who is a Lawyer who came up with the Theory.  He said even tho nobody saw an Owl strike Kathleen, she was clutching feathers in her hand, her wounds did look like it could have been Talon or Owl marks on her head.  His Theory came in too late tho at the end of the Trial and the defense did not think they could change their story at the end of the trial so it was never bought up during trial. 

  • Dan August 31, 2020 (2:26 pm)

    A few weeks ago, I was jogging around 1AM near the High Point P-Patch and was repeatedly divebombed by a Barred Owl. I have short hair and wasn’t wearing anything that might have triggered a prey response, but he came at me several more times while I was looking directly at him. These rowdy owls are out at night causing mayhem and something must be done for the sake of our West Seattle community! [shakes fist at sky]

  • Via August 31, 2020 (2:55 pm)

    I wish those owls would find their way to my backyard and eat some of the moles I’m dealing with! 

  • cath August 31, 2020 (4:16 pm)

    My daughter was dive bombed by a Barred Owl in Florida. She also had her hair in a bun.

  • Tim McMonigle August 31, 2020 (4:23 pm)

    We had a low flying owl over the weekend that drove my dog crazy.  He ended up landing on our roof, and I got a few good pics.

    • Joshua September 1, 2020 (3:36 pm)

      That looks just like the owl that landed on our trampoline while my daughter and her two friends were trying to sleep last night around 1am.

  • anonyme August 31, 2020 (4:46 pm)

    If I’m not mistaken, there was even a small owl feather in one of the woman’s head wounds, determined to be from an owl’s foot.  And yes, the husband was convicted and spent 10 years in prison before taking an Alford plea.   Scary.

  • Joe Z August 31, 2020 (5:15 pm)

    Most trail runners around here fear barred owls more than bears or cougars. There have been numerous attacks in the woods around Issaquah. Some of them have been quite serious. If you see an owl stalking you, head the other way and get ready to defend yourself. 

  • River August 31, 2020 (6:39 pm)

    They are silent assassins.  Will drop from the tree top and not make a sound until right above your head.  Definitely keep your head on a swivel if you know you’re being stalked.

  • Joseph August 31, 2020 (7:28 pm)

    If that thing dives on me it’s going to be taxidermied and displayed on my den desk.

    • WSB August 31, 2020 (9:47 pm)

      As noted in the WDFW fact sheet linked above, “Owls are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.”

  • Owl Victum August 31, 2020 (8:09 pm)

    Interesting, I was also attack my an Owl!   A few years ago in North Admiral.  It was an October evening as the sun was setting I jumped out of my car to take a picture of Seattle.  Then as I’m holding up phone up and looking into the screen low and behold an Owl with a huge wings spread out came gliding up the hill with its talons reaching out to attack me.  Time was the essence, I had no defense.  I started to jump and swing my arms as the Owl was about 10 feet from me, yes, I startled it, which was mutual and the Owl angled its wings and went higher towards a tree branch.  Then I started to  walk towards my car up the street, thank goodness I turned around. The Owl was making a second attempt to attack me and would have tryed to blind me, no lie. I started jumping again swinging my arms and startled it again, this time I ran to my car.  The Owl did not get me, thank goodness.  Unfortunately, no one in my family  believed me until I showed them this article…

  • James E August 31, 2020 (8:10 pm)

    My ex wife had a crow fly into the back of her head outside my house.  Not this nor Kate being attacked by an owl is an accident.  These birds know what they are doing.  They probably are watching the news reports and snickering.  Expect something like Hitchcock’s The Birds to happen.  Maybe we should all wear helmets when we jog.

  • Trileigh August 31, 2020 (8:38 pm)

    I notice that most if not all of these incidents took place at dusk or after dark – that’s Barred Owls’ hunting time. If you’re jogging through owl territory (especially wooded areas) at those times, it’s not too surprising a hungry owl looking down from its perch above might mistake you for a snack. The best way to avoid an owl interaction like this is not to go through its territory in the dark!

    Also, it’s probably bad for owls’ eyes to use flash to photograph them in the dark. They can crash into obstacles while being temporarily blinded, for instance. But we sure can enjoy seeing them perched in daytime and hearing their dramatic calls.

    • 1994 September 1, 2020 (10:45 pm)

      I learned that owl wings are silent when the fly but any moisture in the air makes it more difficult for them to fly so they tend not to hunt in the rain.It’s rare to see an owl hunting in the rain.”They have given up the oil found in many feathers, which protects other birds form rain, for soft, silent feathers more valuable for stealthy hunting,” wrote Leigh Salvez in “The Hidden Lives of Owls” (Sasquatch Books, 2016).Simply put, “the fluffy body feathers of owls soak up a lot of water,

  • Teresa August 31, 2020 (8:45 pm)

    Someone reported being “attacked” by an owl at Schmitz Park this evening on the West Seattle runner page.  She had a ponytail and no injuries.  

  • Sarah August 31, 2020 (10:45 pm)

    I love Owls. All these stories make me think of one of our families favorite series: Wildwood. 

  • Graciano September 1, 2020 (4:44 am)

    “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?”https://youtu.be/NtRPYpklhiA

  • KT September 1, 2020 (5:48 am)

    we were at SeaTac Park recently and they just put up a sign warning of an aggressive owl.

  • what kind of bird are you? September 1, 2020 (8:41 am)

    I wonder if the light of the fuller moon has contributed to recent hair attacks by Owls… maybe it impacts their hunting instincts and behavior.

    Wear a hat runners, and remember, this world is as much theirs, and they have precious owlettes to protect!

  • OwlGuy September 7, 2020 (6:19 pm)

    As someone who has lived with owls for over 30 years, I have some strong opinions.IMHO an owl will not attack a person, unless  a) it feels threatened. b) it thinks that ponytail is a meal, that needs to be snatched off the back of your head. C) it thinks that small sound coming from the earbuds is a small animal. D) it has young in the area, and you are getting too close.

Sorry, comment time is over.