City Councilor Scott Memhard shared the following article about a Great Horned Owl attack from Sunday’s Boston Globe Magazine. Although an extremely, extremely rare occurrence, we thought our readers would be interested. The article about the attack begins after the Snowy Owl photo.
A photographer friend shares a story about a Great Horned Owl landing on his friend’s camera, and I, along with many fellow owl observers, have seen Snowy Owls fly directly toward a group of onlookers. Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus) and Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) are close cousins, with many similar traits. Both will ferociously defend their nests. We’ll never see a Snowy Owl nest in Massachusetts because Snowies breed in the Arctic. Great Horned Owls on the other hand begin nesting early in the year in our region, usually laying eggs between mid-February up through the end of March. A Great Horned Owl will attack perceived threats to its nest and nesting territory.
The Great Horned Owl, also commonly called the Hoot Owl and the Tiger Owl, is found throughout North America and is common in Massachusetts. We most often hear the owl’s varied calls, screeches, and hoots during winter and up to the beginning of the nesting period. Great Horned Owls have the most diverse diet of all North American raptors, and like Snowy Owls, their extremely powerful impact upon striking typically kills prey instantly. I can imagine why the young boy in the article was concussed after being struck in the head by a Great Horned Owl.
By Mark Shanahan
My child went sledding alone and emerged from the trees bloody and dazed. He still can’t remember what happened.
THROUGH THE LIVING ROOM window, I see my son standing in the street in front of our house. He’s wearing a black ski parka and snow pants. A woman I don’t recognize has pulled her car over and is standing a few feet away, holding his hat. I open the front door.
“Beckett?” I call.
“I think something’s wrong,” the woman stammers.
As if in slow motion, my 12-year-old son turns his head and looks up at me.
“Jesus,” I cry.
Half of Beckett’s face is bloody and swollen. I race down the steps and crouch in front of him, my nose touching his. He stares at me blankly.
“What happened?” I ask.
“A bird,” he says softly. “It took Mommy and Julia away.”
Beckett had been sledding alone in the Middlesex Fells Reservation near our home in Medford. Had he hit a tree? The wound is terrifying. His cheek is ruptured, grotesquely inflamed, and there’s a lot of blood.
His mother and sister are fine, I tell him. What happened?
“I don’t know,” he murmurs, his lips so swollen he has trouble forming the words.
As we drive to the hospital, I watch Beckett in the rearview mirror. He’s clearly in shock. He doesn’t speak as he gazes at the falling snow. LINK TO FULL ARTICLE HERE.