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East Memphis man says he’s under attack by a surprising culprit

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- An East Memphis man says he’s under attack in his own driveway, but it’s not your typical culprit.

Neal Cordell walked WREG's Bridget Chapman through the first of two attacks. He said he was getting the newspaper when something hit his shoulder.

“A few days later, I walk out and something hit me in the head and almost knocked me down.”

He said he grabbed the paper and ran back inside, waving it over his head in fear.

“I reached up and touched my head, and I feel blood.”

Three marks were still there on Tuesday from what he believes was an owl talon.

He said he’s heard owls in the 20 years he’s lived there and once saw one sitting on his fence.

These recent attacks led him to research the birds and narrow his suspect down to a barn owl.

“All of my friends are kidding me now," he said. "They think this is real funny that I got attacked by an owl.”

Cordell’s learned a lot about owls along the way.

He said they’re reclusive creatures out during the early morning when it’s dark (the time he gets his paper) and live in hollowed-out tree branches.

“Yeah, I'm a bird man," he laughed. "That's right, I'm a bird man."

But he doesn’t want to get hurt again, so he’s taking protective measures.

He now wears a hard helmet to get the newspaper that he previously used while coaching baseball.

“I put it on and run out there and hope nobody hits me."

He’s picked up some theories on why the owls target him as well -- one being his hair color: “Maybe the lightness attracted them," he said. "I have no idea. You know, us blondes have more fun.”

He said his friends also suggested his head looks like an egg, and there’s the chance the owls are protecting babies nearby.

All Cordell knows is that he wants them all to be able to live together in peace.

“I'm the most observant person in the world, looking for these owls.”

He said the owls have been quieter this past week and believe they’re going into mating season. He’s also found instances of other people being attacked by owls online.