Angry bird: Signs an owl is about to attack you

A great gray rests on a highway sign while hunting February 28, 2017.
A great gray rests on a highway sign while hunting Feb. 28, 2017, north of Two Harbors, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News file

The Rocky Point Trail in Lake Bemidji State Park remains closed Wednesday after a 3-year old girl was attacked and injured by an owl on Friday.

The girl received minor scratches on her head and was treated at urgent care.

Several other people have reported similar attacks in the area. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sent a team to the park, but so far has been unable to locate the owl or owls responsible.

Christine Herwig, a non-game wildlife specialist with the DNR in Bemidji, Minn., says the owl might have attacked because it felt its young were threatened. It's also possible the bird has a bacterial or viral infection, causing it to act oddly.

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If an owl is about to attack — which is fairly rare — it will usually let you know, Herwig said.

"They may call or hiss or even click their bills to give you some idea that they're there," she said. "They often want to give you a warning or see if they can scare you off using those tactics before they take it up another level and actually go after you."

And if you do happen to stumble across an angry bird?

Stay back. Give it space.

And maybe bring along your umbrella.

"If you know there are aggressive birds in the area, carry an umbrella or have a stick with flags on it. Hold it above your head. Often birds will attack the tallest part of you, so if you put the stick above your head, that's the part they will attack," Herwig said.