PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – With the days getting shorter, the Portland Audubon Society is telling runners to be on the lookout for barred owls that might attack.
A runner’s ponytail or beanies with a pompom on top can confuse barred owls into thinking there’s prey, according to the organization. The society said the owls are found throughout the Portland metro area, but they are more common in rural roads or forested parks.
Currently, there are information signs at three locations at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton to raise awareness.
“We’ve had a few sightings of barred owls on the Big Fir Trail at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park this summer, with two patrons noting that they had the owl fly down towards them,” said Holly Thompson, a spokesperson with the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District. “No contact was made in either case.”
Bob Sallinger, the conservation director for the Portland Audubon Society, said the last report the society received of a barred owl encountering a human was last fall or winter.
The barred owl weighs about one to two pounds and eats small rodents, reptiles, amphibians and bugs.
If you’re jogging in the early morning or evening hours and get bopped by an owl, Sallinger said, “I would make yourself big – make yourself appear to be a human being. Maybe wave your arms a little bit and move on.”
Sallinger suggests for people to avoid wearing hats with pompoms and tucking in long hair to avoid an attack. However, Sallinger notes that attacks only happen from time to time.
This is also peak crow season, according to the Portland Audubon. People in the downtown area can look out for 15,000 to 18,000 crows during this time.
Sallinger added that a group of crows is also called a “murder of crows.”
How did the birds get the name?
“In the case of crows, nobody knows for certain. It may have to do with the fact that crows will congregate where there is carrion,” he said. “That could be a dead animal, a battlefield. Also, crows have a very interesting behavior of congregating around other dead crows — an event that has been described as ‘crow funerals.’”
Whether it be an owl or a crow, the Portland Audubon hopes people can safely enjoy looking at wildlife during the fall season.