If you hike and trail run frequently this time of year, you may feel the wrath (but hopefully not the talons) of an overly protective barred owl. Now most folks are worried about not-so-friendly encounters with bears, mountains lions, rattlesnakes and other assorted critters. Fair enough. But it’s those owls that worry me and you may want to keep a watchful eye for them on your spring journeys.
My first aggressive owls attack occurred a few years ago around this time of year. I was on a short trail run in Alice Lake Provincial Park just north of Squamish, British Columbia, when a large barred owl flew onto a nearby limb. Gorgeous creature indeed. I stopped my stride to photograph him with my small point-and-shoot. I Watched him for a while-tried to focus on him- (her actually) when suddenly she swooped down at me! Yikes! I have heard of this happening to other hapless hikers. But now it was involving me!
I immediately started running down the forested trail. My agitated owl “friend” swooped down at me a couple of more times. I start running faster- and that blasted owl kept flying down the trail at me. I picked up a stick and started singing at it as I ran. This would have made good video coverage- a crazy Italian trail runner lancing at the air with an alder limb and cussing at a bird!
After about a third of a mile or so, the owl let me go! It was exhilarating and a bit unnerving. Ironically, there are bears and cougars in this park and I was out on an evening run all alone. I was more concerned about the big beasties, but it was an owl that got me! Trust me- her chicks have nothing to worry about-I will not be returning this spring to look for them! And when you see a trailhead sign warning of an aggressive owl. Heed it and go for a hike or run in a much safer area-one with just bears, cougars, and rattlesnakes!
For great hikes to find owls or stay away from them, check out my line of trusted and best-selling guidebooks!