Close call with a great horned owl

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Twardy: “this monster 
comes swooping…”

PAWLING – Mike Twardy will think twice next time before venturing outside at 2 a.m. to get a breath of fresh air after an encounter with a great horned owl.
Twardy, 63, a former Carmel businessman and current director of Facilities in the Garrison School District, met the huge bird on the porch of his Pawling residence last Thursday.
“The night was perfectly clear and as I was in awe over the serenity of the evening, out of nowhere this monster comes swooping through the air and charges at my head. I dropped like a ton of bricks. By the time I regained my composure the monstrous bird had flown away.”
Twardy estimated te bird’s wing span was five feet, which the National Audubon Society noted on its website is common for a large horned owl.
“Found almost throughout North America and much of South America this is a big owl that is aggressive and powerful in its hunting. The owl takes prey as varied as rabbits, hawks, snakes, and even skunks, and will even attack porcupines, often with fatal results for both prey and predator,” said the website.
Twardy, whose hair is snow white, believes the owl mistook him for “either another owl or a white rabbit.”

Great horned owl (Audubon Society photo)

The owl attack was the second recorded in recent weeks.
Officials in Alberta, Canada reported a cross-country skier was attacked by a great horned owl while crossing a field at night sustaining 16 puncture wounds on his scalp.
The skier identified by the Canadian Broadcasting Company as Miloslav Bozdech, had a theory as to why the big bird attacked him. “My white hair had something to do with it or perhaps it was the white scarf around my neck which is the color of bunny rabbits in winter.”
The Audubon Society also indicated great horned owls will attack people during mating season protecting their nests.
Twardy also did research regarding his attacker. “The talons on a great horned owl are stronger than the bite is of a German shepherd. This is the only bird of prey that has killed a human. It’s frightening to think I could have been the big bird’s midnight snack!”