Bird lover allays fears over eagle owl

Stephanie McDowell and her Eagle Owl.
Stephanie McDowell and her Eagle Owl.
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AN experienced bird-keeper says there is nothing to fear from an escaped eagle owl which is flying around our skies.

 The bird of prey, called Jess, has been spotted several times in Cleadon Hills and Boldon Flats Nature Reserve.

 She had escaped hours after her previous owner sold her to a new keeper more than a year ago.

 But, as reported in the Echo, in recent weeks Jess has made herself more well known to the public – even ripping a jogger’s jacket – sparking fears she may be dangerous.

 However, Stephanie McDowell, who has reared 12-year-old Archie, a Bengal eagle owl, since he was a chick, insists the birds aren’t dangerous.

 The 35-year-old, who works as a Sky satellite TV installer, and is also a DJ in the evenings, said: “I felt as though the bird was getting a bad press, and there was a lot of unnecessary fears.

 “Everything has been blown out of proportion. The worst-case scenario would be that the bird recognises a voice similar to her old handler’s, and will try to land on them.

 “That’s not because she wants to hurt them, but because she associates that with getting a reward.

 “I understand there has only ever been one death caused by an owl, which was in America. A man was wearing a furry hat and an owl swooped down and caught an artery on his neck, but he was too far from hospital so he bled to death.”

Miss McDowell said.