Barred owl gets own sign. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow inspired Oregon’s capital to post new warning signs in a park where four runners reported attacks from an angry owl likely defending its nest against perceived threats. One jogger, a surgeon, said the owl hit him twice in Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, and so hard he thought he was having a stroke or an aneurysm. Another said the bird swiped his longtime running cap and nicked his scalp. Maddow suggested on air last week that the city should post a vivid yellow warning sign using the iconic pedestrian stick figure bent forward at a run. Above, claws extended, is a raptor. Salem officials liked the idea.
Mark Becktel, parks and transportation services manager, said the city secured rights to reproduce the sign and is posting 20 of them. “It’s just making people aware that there’s an owl there that for whatever reason swoops down and goes after people’s hats,” he said. Officials previously put up handbills with printed warnings that Maddow said weren’t strong enough.
Birders say the assailant is a barred owl, an aggressive bird that’s especially so during the current mating season. They say it may calm down soon. Much of the angry owl’s play in the press was in fun. The local paper, the Statesman Journal, had an online naming contest. “Owlcapone” got 238 votes, leading among 11 suggestions. Coming in third, at 188 votes, was “Rachel Maddowl.” The MSNBC host suggested the sign design during a 14-minute segment Feb. 5 about wackiness in Oregon. Among her topics were a Republican leader who collects urine samples for scientific research and allegations that Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancee used his office to win contracts for her consulting business. Politically, “Oregon is nuts,” Maddow said.
But what amused her most was the threat “looming over the state of Oregon right now, looming silently and occasionally swooping down and terrifying the state — and sometimes drawing a little blood.”