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Save the Children: Barred Owls Live Among Us

Barred owl

On Tuesday, the U.S. Secretary of Education nominee made headlines during her congressional confirmation hearing.  When asked by senators about her views on having guns in schools, Betsy DeVos cited local wildlife as one reason guns may be necessary.  Referring to the state of Wyoming, DeVos said, “I think probably there, I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

Of course, this only justifies arming schools in grizzly-heavy states such as Wyoming, Montana and Alaska.  But where does that leave the rest of us?  How can we call for increased protection of today’s youth without a large bloodthirsty predator around?  California sports a grizzly on its flag, but those bears have been absent from the state in nearly a century.  Here in Washington, fleeting sightings of grizzlies have only been reported again in recent years.  So on the surface it appears we’re safe.


There is a vicious predator that lives among us, an animal that has no fear and attacks humans without warning.  And lest you city dwellers think this threat only applies to those living in rural areas, think again.  The creature is right here in our urban areas, next door to our schools and in our own back yards.

What is the greatest threat facing our children today?  Why, the Barred owl, of course.

Barred owl

Over the years, Barred owl attacks have become commonplace.  Just last week during my private local photo tour, we encountered a jogger in Yost Park who had been attacked by an owl that morning.  Attacks have been reported in many states, including Washington, Oregon and Maryland.  Not only are the owls violent, but they’re sneaky, usually swooping in on unsuspecting victims from behind.

Think this is a hoax?  There is video evidence (warning: Graphic Content of a man stumbling around not knowing what hit him):

No, that’s not the latest Paranormal Activity movie.  It’s real life.  And it’s just as terrifying as any horror film.  It’s obvious that one of these large birds could snatch a baby out of a stroller any day now.  We must take action.

Barred owl

Artist rendering of the inevitable.

And if you don’t think this problem is widespread, it’s important to note the expanding range of the Barred owl.  Formerly a species confined to eastern and central North America, Barred owls reached the west coast starting in the 1960s, and made it down to California by the 1980s.  In fact, eBird’s sightings map shows Barrel owl sightings reported in forty-six of our fifty states.  The only states that are Barred owl free?  Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Hawaii.  Thankfully, Wyoming has grizzly bears, Hawaii has sharks and Arizona has rattlesnakes, so those states will be able to boost school arsenals without much blowback.

Oh, Utah, you think you’re safe?  You’ve got pygmy owls, those bloodthirsty little predators known for killing larger prey.  Here, one lords over a much larger Pine grosbeak it killed.

Northern pygmy owl

Imagine what it might do to a third grader.  Sorry Utah, you too should live in fear.

Hey, I understand that you may still be skeptical.  But have you ever looked into the soul of an owl?

African wood owl

If that’s not the surest sign of pure evil, I don’t know what is.

Thankfully, we’re already taking steps to curb this problem here on the west coast.  A cull of thousands of Barred owls was announced a few years ago, under the guise of “saving the Spotted owl.”  In reality, we know they’re looking out for our kids.  But what if that doesn’t work?  After all, that jogger I met barely escaped with his life.  I’ve even had Barred owls stalking my family at my in-laws’ house.  My wife is rather short… what if one carries her off to feed its young?!

I have faith that Betsy DeVos will know what must be done.  Once she acknowledges the widespread threat of the Barred owl, with her inevitable confirmation we’ll be able to rest easy knowing all our children will finally be safe.


  1. Reny January 19, 2017 Reply

    Yes, what if Jenn was carried off to be fed to the young barred owls? LOL !!

    Very entertaining Max, loved it!

    • Author
      Max January 19, 2017 Reply

      Thanks, Reny. Glad you had fun with it.

  2. Bill Anderson October 20, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the PSA. I have negotiated a peace treaty with our local barred owls in Yost and Pine Ridge parks, but who knows how long they will honor it? Just last week my wife found one perched in a western hemlock in our backyard, a block north of Pine Ridge Park as the owl flies. Could it have been a reconnaissance flight in preparation for a full fledged attack?

  3. Author
    Max August 13, 2018 Reply

    Blog reader Julia pointed me to “Staircase,” a documentary about a murder case that is currently on Netflix. Apparently, one (credible) theory about the cause of death at the heart of the trial is that the death was instigated by… a Barred owl attack. Thanks for the info, Julia!

  4. not an owl November 14, 2020 Reply


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