If You Hear Them Hoot, Scoot: Foul Owls on the Bainbridge Prowl
Article Date: 2007-08-08 Source: http://www.kitsapsun.com
By Rachel Pritchett
Bainbridge Island, Washington, U.S.A. - What might be a very angry mommy-and-daddy pair of barred owls are dive-bombing unsuspecting humans on south Bainbridge Island, leaving scratches on joggers' foreheads and forcing them into frightened crouches.
The owls are even stealing knit caps right off the noggins of innocent
dog-walkers, then flying to high branches to gaze down supremely.
Recent reports of attacks from the avian kamikazes have forced island park
workers to close a portion of trail leading into the vast, wooded Gazzam Lake
Park. They've posted signs that read ''Danger. Possible Owl Attack!''
Of course, the signs were promptly torn down by other humans who weren't about
to be told where they could and couldn't go in a public park.
Only concern for their children could make a mom and dad behave this badly.
This is no exception, according to Roger Belieu, parks services supervisor for
the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District. He adds that
they have a nest in the Gazzam woods.
"They're just protecting their young," he said. Belieu was the one who told
about the jogger who got struck in the forehead and the dog-walker who lost his
The owls turn nasty when their young begin to venture out of the nest, he and
South island resident John Grinter was enjoying a morning walk home from a south
island cafe when he heard a whoosh from behind.
"I got dive-bombed," he said.
He turned and saw the culprit go into a tree.
A jogger came by. Grinter spoke with him about the owl watching them. As the
jogger turned to leave, the owl came at him fast.
"I yelled, 'Here he comes!'" Grinter said.
But the owl was on the jogger, forcing him into a crouch.
Science teacher Jamie Acker of Bainbridge Island has been studying barred owls
for a dozen years. In July, he counted at least 61 just on Bainbridge, his
"Their population keeps going up," Acker said.
Barred owls are not native to the Northwest, but they were first seen in
Washington in 1965. Their first sighting locally was in 1993 on Bainbridge,
They had to go somewhere.
"They're getting pushed around because of habitat," said Mike Pratt, director of
wildlife services at West Sound Wildlife Shelter of Bainbridge Island.
Not to fear too much longer. Once the owls are sure their feathered kids are out
of danger and that they've been taught how to treat humans who get too close,
they'll sweeten up.
"This will all go away in about two weeks," Acker said. The Gazzam trail should
open by the end of August.
Meanwhile, it may not be a good thing if you hear a call from above and behind
that an online reference says sounds like this: "Hoo, hoo, too-HOO; hoo, hoo,
It may be a visit from the owl also known in some circles as the "The Hooting Cat of the North."
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2009-01-29 - Cold, dark mornings rewarded with owl sightings by Kathryn True - Bainbridge Island, Washington, U.S.A.
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