We think of owls as wise, mysterious, and in some cases, adorable. But violent predators? One man from Salem, Oregon, would argue that point after an owl reportedly attacked him while he was jogging in Bush’s Pasture Park on Jan. 12.
Ron Jaecks, 58, says he felt like he was struck by lightning or hit in the head with a two-by-four after an owl reportedly swooped down and pulled his stocking cap off of his head, puncturing his scalp at the same time, reports USA Today.
Not knowing what had attacked him, Jaecks says he instinctively ran faster to get away. That’s when he noticed a huge bird-like animal hovering above his head. He believed it was a bat. The animal again attacked him.
Jaecks, who is a general surgeon for Kaiser Permanente, says he thought he was having a stroke or aneurysm, reports KVUE. After going home to wash his scalp, he says he called David Craig, a biology professor and animal behavior specialist at Willamette University, who shed light on the situation.
Craig told him he suspected he had been attacked by either a barred owl or great horned owl. The latter are the most powerful of common owls, according to the National Conservancy, and tend to quietly wait before swooping down on their prey with 30 pounds of force. They are reportedly strong hunters that have a wingspan of nearly 5 feet.
“As scary as it was for Ron, it’s a wonderful thing Salem can offer such a great habitat,” Craig said.
Parts of a park in Seattle were reportedly closed in 2012 following reports that owls were attacking people. Craig suggested the Salem park put up warning signs, but that closing it should be a last resort.