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A bird of prey may be responsible for 3 attacks on people in the Clayton area

CLAYTON, MO – At least three Clayton residents have reported a large bird has swooping down on them in the last 36 hours or so.

They've got the scratches to prove it.

It started with a woman on a morning run on Meramec Avenue near Clayton Road in the Davis Place neighborhood, early Tuesday.

It happened at least two more times Tuesday evening.

“It was really ‘Alfred Hitchock’ horrible,” said Danijela Boric.

She was walking with friends when, out of nowhere, it pounced, she said.

It was dark, around 8:15 Tuesday night.

“When he grabbed me the first time I turned around.  He was just above me.  His claws were there, the talons.  We were making eye contact.  It was horrible,” she said.

More people posted encounters on the Next Door social media app:

“An owl rammed the back of my head, left scratches and a bump,” one woman posted.

“A neighbor got attacked twice,” reported another.

Neighbor, Bill Goodfriend added:  "a large flying animal left wounds atop my head.”

Then Boric posted "I must say it really hurts -- it followed me -- awful".

“He was just above me.  His claws were there, the talons.  We were making eye contact.  It was horrible,” Boric said.  “You could hear the wings…and then I ran across the street and he came after me.  Then I came back across the street again.  I did a zig-zag all the way up the street.  He continuously came after me.”

She worried about her three sons, saying the bird seems nearly as large as her youngest, Roman, 3.

Roger Holloway of the World Bird Sanctuary said it was likely one of two owl species living in the area:  a Barred Owl or Great Horned Owl juvenile bird still figuring out what is and what is not prey.

It may also be a juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk, he said.

A Fox 2/News 11 camera caught one in the exact area of the recent encounters.

After studying pictures of the bird, Boric was leaning toward it being a hawk.

She remembered the claws more than the eyes.

“The thing that has stayed with me is that sound that it made when he was scratching my skull.  It was awful,” she said.

The bird will soon figure out the futility of swooping down on people., Holloway said.  He suggested running or walking with a shiny, Mylar, balloon or even a cap with cutout of large, white eyes on the back of it to throw off the bird's element of surprise and keep it away.