The presence of an aggressive and territorial owl in South Whidbey Community Park has led to some concern that the bird could attack unknowing passersby.
South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District released a warning on Monday about the owl, which is inhabiting the southeastern corner of the park. A map with the area outlined is available to view on the parks and rec district’s Facebook page.
South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Terry Ney told first responders to wear a helmet if responding to a call in that area. One firefighter responded to say that he dealt with a similar occurrence there last spring while going for a run, during which an owl “dive bombed” and clawed him in the head.
Ralph Downes, an enforcement officer for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, surmised that the perpetrator is likely a barred owl, a species which is known to be protective when nesting.
“Every now and then they’ll actually make contact,” Downes said. “Usually not much damage is done, but it scares the crap out of people.”
He added that owl attacks have been reported in Anacortes, Coupeville and other nearby areas where the birds are nesting and spooking people who come too close.
“It’s a seasonal behavior that will go away with time,” he said.