An aggressive owl has been dive-bombing and attacking on a popular cross-country ski trail in Maine, and the man injured by the owl is speaking exclusively to necn and NBC 10 Boston.
"I was just skiing along and all of a sudden I got knocked down," said Ted Hall, a frequent cross-country skier at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine. He said it happened about two weeks ago. It was around dusk, and he never heard it coming.
"I was kind of freaked out," he said.
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Hall didn’t know what hit him until he looked up.
"This owl flew right into a tree, right close by," he said. "It just kind of perched and looked at me."
Hall got back up on his feet and tried to back away. "I was yelling at it, 'Get out here! Get out of here!' It would not move. It kept staring at me."
Then, the bird believed to be a Barred Owl, took another dive bomb at him, and barely missed his head. Hall escaped with two scratches on his scalp. He reported the incident to the staff at Pineland Farms.
"This is the mating season for this owl and that's why she's being a little protective of her area," said Matt Sabasteanski, Outdoor Recreation Director at Pineland Farms.
They have placed signs and posted on Facebook about the attack, warning other skiers to be careful on the Campus Trail. They suggest wearing a helmet, carrying an object like an umbrella, and waving your arms over your head if approaching the owl’s area.
"They’re a powerful bird," said Sabasteanski. "They could do some damage to a human."
The attack was the talk of the trails Thursday. Some skiers were hoping to catch a glimpse of the notorious Barred Owl.
"We thought it was amusing – it sounded like a once in a lifetime kind of thing," said skier Chris Lanou.
Hall says the attack hasn’t deterred him from going back to his favorite skiing spot. Days after the attack, he admits the story is a hoot.
"We live in Maine," he said. "This stuff happens."