Feisty owls dive-bomb joggers in south Richmond - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Feisty owls dive-bomb joggers in south Richmond


A feisty breed of owl is dive-bombing neighbors in south Richmond. The culprit- the Barred Owl. Joggers are posting accounts on Facebook of owl attacks in recent weeks, in the Westover Hills and Forest Hill areas.

Wildlife experts say the barred owl is very protective of its home and young. So, it doesn't appreciate joggers stomping by. Jogger Tommy Miller has a scratch on his head to prove it.

"I felt something kind of snap at my head," described Miller.

Miller was jogging in Forest Hill Park last Tuesday, when the assault literally came out of the sky.

"All of a sudden, I felt this kind of pinch/glide of something on top of my head…I kind of screamed for a second...turned around thinking somebody might be there," continued Miller of the attack.

However, his assailant had already taken off.

When the barred owl strikes, it's usually silent. Neighbors describe it as a stealth attack- swooping down and often aiming right for its target's head.

"You heard nothing, which was kind of the scarier part about it," exclaimed Miller.

Wildlife experts say the Barred Owl is common to Virginia. Several are routinely spotted in the Westover Hills and Forest Hill neighborhoods.

Neighbor Cass Meagher takes her family on evening walks, hoping to spot her new neighbors.

"We named one of them Theodosia…and Hermione…We hear them, pretty much every night," said Meagher. 

One perched just outside her bathroom window. Meagher watched closely with her children.

"We think they hunt around here because there are lots of chipmunks," continued Meagher.

That's not all the birds may be hunting, if joggers decide to stomp through their territory.

"We think they're protecting their family, and that's what we tell our kids," said Meagher.

"I thought it was amusing and humorous," smiled Miller.

The Barred Owl is federally protected, which means they're here to stay, and their nests must not be disturbed. So joggers may decide to find a different path.

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