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Name: Jane
Status: educator
Grade: 12+
Location: TX
Country: USA
Date: Fall 2011


Question:
I was attacked twice by what I believe was a barn owl about 6 a.m. a couple of weeks ago. It was still dark outside, and I was walking on a street in my neighborhood which I walk several times/week during that hour, and have done so for the last year. The owl apparently grabbed onto my bare head w/ talons and scraped it as it flew off. I didn't know what it was until he did it a 2nd time. I had small scrape marks. My dogs' vet told me they don't carry rabies and to clean wounds, put antibiotic ointment on them unless the cuts were bleeding--then go to doctor. It really scared me. I haven't gone the same way since when it's dark,but now am wondering if it's going to happen even in another place when dark, as in my neighborhood we have tall trees everywhere. I've been wearing a baseball cap and safety glasses since, and sometimes take an umbrella. I haven't been attacked when I've walked during the day.



Replies:
This owl is probably a Great Horned Owl. Barn Owls are diurnal. These owls usually do not mistaken humans for prey, and I would not expect a second occurrence. If you are walking your small dog, that may have been its intended target. GHOs are in the process of bonding and identifying their nest site for they are on the nest by January. You may have been near their nesting site and this may have been a defense of this site behavior. I would need a great deal more information to determine that as fact.

You are going to have to ask a local DNR or wildlife expert for the general timing. Texas is too far south for me to guess.

Steve Sample


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