Pesky owl at Maryland park doesn’t give a hoot about runners

A barred owl sits on a branch in Calais, Vt., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2002. The barred owl of eastern North America has an overall barred pattern in brown and white and is about 40 to 50 cm (1.3 to 1.7 feet) long. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Park officials are warning of an aggressive owl that is believed to have attacked runners on a popular trail in Bethesda, a Maryland suburb of the nation’s capital.

At least three runners on the Capital Crescent Trail have reported being attacked by a large, pesky bird one of them identified as a barred owl.

The attacks occurred after nightfall or before dawn in the past two weeks. Officials say the runners suffered only minor scratches when the bird swooped down on their heads from behind.

Montgomery Parks spokeswoman Melissa Chotiner says barred owls are typically active at night and are territorial. She suggests making noise as an owl approaches and tucking in any ponytails.

Park staff put signs up on the trail Tuesday reading, “Caution! An aggressive owl lives here!”

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