Owl attack

Kevin O'Neil said his wife snapped this picture after he was attacked by an owl. He said once he cleaned up he didn't need stitches. (Courtesy of Kevin O'Neil)

A 55-year-old rabbit hunter from Nova Scotia's Digby County is recovering from an attack by a cranky owl on Tuesday night.

Kevin O'Neil said he was checking on his snares on shore after a day of lobster fishing when he saw an owl in a nearby tree.

"I kind of looked up at it jokingly and said to it, 'You bugger, you better not be eating my rabbits,'" he said.

A few minutes later O'Neil says he heard a swoosh coming at him in the dark.

"It swooped down and struck me right in the face. Feet first," he said.

"Drove three of its talons in my forehead and the other three right around my right eye. One in the corner, one in my eyebrow and one in the corner of my nose. The blood just started running out of me. It knocked me down."

O'Neil said he was carrying a shotgun and turned it on the owl as it returned to a tree. The owl didn't attack again so he walked out of the woods without firing.

"He's one lucky owl, that's all I can say," he said.

O'Neil said he thinks the bird, likely a barred owl, might have been protecting a nest. 

He has several cuts around his eye, but said two days after the attack he's recovering well.

"It was pretty freaky," he said. "It was different."

O'Neil said he’s an avid woodsman and photographer who loves nature, just not when it comes that close.