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Name: josh
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Age: N/A
Location: N/A
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Question:
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 chicks.


Replies:
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

http://www.wos.org/WAList01.htm

TYTONIDAE
Barn Owl
STRIGIDAE
Flammulated Owl
Western Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Snowy Owl
Northern Hawk Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Burrowing Owl
Spotted Owl
Barred Owl
Great Gray Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Boreal Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl

I really can only speak for the species in and around Illinois.

Steve Sample


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