British Columbia

Delta residents warned to watch skies for divebombing owls after 3 attacks

Delta police are warning residents to watch the skies after three people in the Tsawwassen area were dive-bombed by ornery owls Thursday. A raptor expert offers some insight on possible motives.

Taloned terrors have attacked people in Tsawwassen area

Look out below! Delta police issued a warning Friday after three people were dive-bombed by owls in Tsawwassen. (The Associated Press)

It's a real whooo-dunnit.

Delta police are warning residents to watch the skies after three people in the Tsawwassen area were divebombed by ornery owls Thursday.

First, police said in a release, a feathered felon swooped down to attack a female jogger on 56A Street Thursday morning.

Then, a bystander who came out of his home at the sound of the jogger's screams was dive-bombed twice.

The final victim was a teenaged boy, reportedly riding his bike in the parking lot of the South Delta Recreation Centre.

The boy's mother told police the owl grabbed onto the boy's helmet as if to take it.

"Joggers and cyclists are recommended to pick a different route for the time being," police spokesperson Cris Leykauf said in a statement. "And it seems they should avoid wearing toques or flashy head wear if travelling through that area."

Police say no injuries were reported in the three incidents.

Retro clothes the answer

Police did not mention any possible motives for the owls' behaviour.

But if the owls in question were barred owls — a type of bird found commonly in the Lower Mainland — raptor expert Rob Hope of the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society has some suspicions

Is this the new face of crime in Delta? Probably not.

"Right now a lot of the birds are setting up breeding areas so they're defending territory," he said.

"It could also be mistaken identity," he added.

"Sometimes joggers or cyclists with ponytails or black fleece vests tend to be the targets and often times that's because barred owls are hunting black and grey squirrels.

"So a bouncing ponytail looks like a squirrel, and they don't see the 150 or 200 pounds below — they just see the hair — and they figure it's a squirrel so they go after them."

Hope says owl attacks usually don't cause more damage than a scratch or a "thump." Any skin-breaking wounds can be treated with a tetanus shot and keeping the wound clean.

He says the best way to avoid being attacked is to wear very bright coloured hats or tops.

"You know, the fluorescent yellows and oranges of the '80s."