READER REPORT: One solution for deterring swooping owls

This is the season when we hear of owls swooping down on unsuspecting runners/walkers. Sarah emailed to share her deterrence discovery:

As a WSB reader and an avid morning runner I have both read about AND experienced the territorial owls of West Seattle. I hesitate to say “attack” since I am the one running through owl territory, but after four separate incidents (in four completely different locations!) I was desperate for a solution. I love running in the early mornings and as it gets dark earlier, I know I’m going to run into the problem again.

Well, I tested a bunch of different things and waited a full year before writing to you just to make sure my solution worked.
I started wearing an owl mask on the back of my head. The fact that it’s an owl isn’t really what makes it successful, but that it looks like I have eyes on the back of my head. Owls won’t attack/swoop anything head-on. It is absolutely a silly solution, but since I’ve started wearing it (September of last year, after I was attacked by an owl at Lincoln Park) I haven’t been swooped at once!
I’m sure there are some other runners/early morning walkers that could use this tip!

As we’ve noted in the past, you can learn about owls – and why they “attack” – via this state Fish and Wildlife Department fact sheet.

15 Replies to "READER REPORT: One solution for deterring swooping owls"

  • E September 25, 2022 (12:13 pm)

    Owl bet you start a trend. 

  • KP September 25, 2022 (12:50 pm)


  • Mellow Kitty September 25, 2022 (12:54 pm)

    That really is an ingenious solution. đź‘Ť

  • anonyme September 25, 2022 (1:10 pm)

    Love the hat, regardless of whether or not it deters owls!  Where can I get one?  I wonder if a crow hat would work for dive-bombing crows?

    • Raincity September 25, 2022 (9:13 pm)

      I am also interested in solutions for dive bombing crows. It’s always around 46th either on Alaska or Edmonds. I have to get up to the bus stop somehow! 

  • KM September 25, 2022 (1:53 pm)

    This is awesome–and cute!

  • Oakley34 September 25, 2022 (1:55 pm)

    Similar tactics work for defensive crows…for example sunglasses on the back of the head.  Of course an owl mask looks way cooler…

  • Insertname September 25, 2022 (2:07 pm)

    Well owl be damned. What a wonderful solution. Thanks for sharing. 

  • TM September 25, 2022 (3:59 pm)

    Hoo knew?

  • Paul Tankel September 25, 2022 (4:31 pm)

    I walk Bonair early morning. Should I be concerned?

  • Owl B. Damned September 25, 2022 (5:47 pm)

    Thanks for sharing the cool survival tip:)   Like the Droste effect in your photo too.  Took me a minute…

  • loblollyboy September 25, 2022 (11:24 pm)

    Rule of thumb in nature is that any critter whose eyes are on the front of the head and looks at you directly is a predator. Harass with caution. Which explains why crows and gulls harassing an eagle always do so from behind and stop when the potential threat has left the defensive zone. Which leads to the second rule of thumb: nesting birds such as crows defend nest/young out to a measurable radius from the nest–if you’re within that radius, you’ll get swooped. And please, in the interest of accuracy, stop calling it ‘attacking’: it is purely defence of eggs and young against a much larger threat: us. Owls attacking people with ponytails—well, who can blame them? They’re seeing a big squirrel. Yum.

    • newnative September 26, 2022 (7:36 am)

      When it comes to public walkways you’re arguing semantics. I accidentally walked in on a flying lesson at the California Ave entrance of Hiawatha park and got chased by two crows through half the park. I have been swooped at in the Junction on a sidewalk. Someone mentioned talking to crows and that’s what I have been doing for years. It certainly helps. 

  • momosmom September 26, 2022 (10:59 am)

    People have been afraid of birds since the 1960’s because of Alfred Hitchcock! 

  • Mrs. A September 26, 2022 (1:56 pm)

    A few years back, our family was attacked on our porch by a pair of crows nesting in a nearby tree. We had returned from a week long vacation, and were attacked the next morning. I found a plastic owl statue in our Halloween decorations, put it on the porch, and the attacks stopped immediately (one mid-flight as I was putting out the statue).Still, I would LOVE one of these hats. It really HURTS when you are dive-bombed and hit in the back of the head by a bird. :)    

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