Barred Owl Aggression
I just wanted to add some comments on Barred Owl attacks. There
is a park where I run in the mornings that has had numerous Bard owl
incidents. Personally, I've been attacked many times. The first time was
last fall and then it came after me again in January. On both
occurrences, its talons did not break the skin. This week however, it
came after me three times in as many days. On the first two days, it
broke skin on my scalp. I am an experienced birder and I'm quite sure
this is a barred owl. I know this behavior is rare, but it is happening
here in Seattle none-the-less. I'd be interested to know what might
cause this behavior, other than the obvious territory or protection of
Barred Owl- highly unlikely, though not entirely impossible. I studied this bird
for two years as a graduate student including radio tagging and handling the
bird directly. I did observe some aggressive behaviors toward me by adults
when I was handling nestlings and fledglings, but this was in April, May and June.
You mentioned that you are an experienced birder, but could one
of the other 15 owls found in your state be suspect for two species look very
much like barred owls?
Many species may be aggressive in the fall and winter as you know as a birder
because this is the
time they set up their nesting territories, and nesting starts in January and
February. Barred owls may show aggression during this time.
However, barred owls have small talons and are timid compared to most other
species and their habitat preferences tend to be focused around river bottoms
and wet lands, and less often around human occupied areas.
Washington state has a number of owls species. The listing has been taken
from the Washington Ornithological Society
Great Horned Owl
Northern Hawk Owl
Great Gray Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
I really can only speak for the species in and around Illinois.
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Update: June 2012