SALEM, Ore. – A park in Oregon's capital has posted warning signs where four runners have reported attacks from an owl likely defending its nest against perceived threats.
One jogger, a surgeon, said the owl hit him twice in Bush's Pasture Park, and the blows were so hard that he thought he was having a stroke or an aneurysm. Another said the bird swiped his longtime running cap and nicked his scalp.
The warning signs were inspired by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who suggested that the city should post a warning sign using the iconic pedestrian stick figure bent forward at a run. Above, claws extended, is a raptor.
Salem officials liked the idea. Mark Becktel, parks and transportation services manager, said the city is posting 20 of the signs.
"It's just making people aware that there's an owl there that for whatever reason swoops down and goes after people's hats," he said.
Birders say the assailant is a barred owl, an aggressive bird that's especially so during the mating season. They say it might calm down soon.
The local paper, the Statesman Journal, had an online naming contest. "Owlcapone" got 238 votes, leading among 11 suggestions. Coming in third, at 188 votes, was "Rachel Maddowl."
That's what caught Maddow's attention. On air, she called the owl a threat "looming over the state of Oregon right now, looming silently and occasionally swooping down and terrifying the state — and sometimes drawing a little blood."