Local runner bloodied by owl attack

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. -- Maybe it was the Seahawks hat that set it off.

A local runner says he was attacked by an owl while jogging near Willard Wyatt Park in Lake Stevens last week. The bird knocked his baseball cap to the ground, leaving his head bloody.

"The first thing I felt was something grabbing my head. It felt like two hands giving me a head massage. That was my first thought, and I thought, 'that can't be!'" said Juston Masuda. "And then the fear came in and the panic, and, 'what the heck was that?!'"

Masuda, an accountant by day and avid runner by night, thought at first that a bat was attacking him. When the animal got closer, however, he saw beady eyes - and a giant wing span.

"Instantaneously, this thing got bigger, and it started coming right at me, and that's when I noticed it was an owl," he said.

"I don't know what kind of an owl it was. It was a sneaky owl!" he joked.

The attack left Masuda's head cut and bloodied, which he only realized once he got home.

Owl assaults on humans are fairly common, said Sgt. Kim Chandler of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, but why the birds attack humans remains a mystery.

"I've had reports of them coming down and grabbing a guy's hat. Who knows why," he said. "They're just goofy like that."

Chandler added that recent attacks may have something to do with the photoperiod - or the number of hours the bird is exposed to light.

"The days are getting shorter. It mixes them up. They think it's springtime. Things go haywire," Chandler added. "And why they do that - nobody knows."

Seattle runner Cory Meacham had a similar experience nearly three weeks ago while running through a rainstorm along Lake Union.

"I feel, like, this shock just attack my head. I had no idea what had happened. I, at first, thought I got hit by lightning, or a power line had fallen down," said Meacham, a marathon runner. "It was just this huge shock that sent shivers down my spine."

The bird knocked Meacham's baseball hat off. He only saw the culprit once he looked up.

"I just walk right underneath it, and lo and behold, it just takes its wings out and swoops down on me again," he said. "I'm just staring at it, like, what's your problem?"

Meacham made it home uninjured - unlike Masuda, who says he'll continue running, despite the storied past on his path.

"It's the first time I've seen an owl, but I was bitten by a dog there 10 years ago, in the same location," Masuda said. "It's kind of a weird spot for me in running."