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Walker warns of swooping owl near Courtenay Airpark

Owl stole toque, scratched head near Mansfield Drive
A walker in Courtenay had an owl steal his toque and leave scratch marks on his head while out for an evening stroll at the airpark. Photo by marksbunker/ Pixabay,

Walkers in Courtenay are warning others to be cautious as an owl has targeted at least two people, stealing a toque and scratching passerby with its talons.

One person who asked to remain anonymous said he was walking last week on the footpath at the Courtenay Airpark close to the Mansfield Drive parking lot in the evening when he saw what he described as a large shadow.

He quickly realized it was a bird that swooped down and hit him on the head.

“It had a wingspan of four-and-a-half feet and I saw it was an owl; it was one of the biggest birds I’ve ever seen - it took my toque and flew into the woods.”

The man discovered the owl scratched his head and once at home, he discovered three distinct talon marks that were bleeding. After getting a tetanus shot, he returned the next day to recover his toque.

The following day while out for another walk, he ran into another walker who shared a similar story of being targeted by an owl near the same location.

“I read a lot on owl attacks, and it seems like they go for things on top and for the tallest things, like the head, face or neck,” he said. “I want people to be aware.”

Gylaine Andersen, manager of wildlife rehabilitation for MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre in Merville explained the behaviour of the owl is pretty common in the mating and nesting season when owls have nests and mates to protect, but they will sometimes swoop down at people when they are defending their territories as well.

“They don’t usually cause injury; they are just trying to intimidate and chase people away.”

Andersen added why the incidents can be scary, she suggested people wear a hat or bring an umbrella while walking through their territory.

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Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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