Experts have warned it could take six months to catch a vicious eagle owl which has attacked two men.
Efforts to capture the bird were scuppered on Wednesday after it went into hiding.
After days of trying to tempt the bird of prey down with food, raptor specialists in Inverness were left scratching their heads as they lost sight of the huge beast.
The rogue predator had been seen hovering above shops in the Highland capital earlier this week, but high winds look to have sent the owl scurrying into the trees for protection.
Staff from the Birds of Prey Rescue Centre (BPRC) in Inverness are still patrolling the streets, but have drawn a blank so far and reckon it could take as much as half a year to catch it.
Raptor expert Tommy Horne admitted it was a frustrating development but promised he would find the owl again soon.
“There are gales of wind up here at the moment so it will be tucked up somewhere hiding out of the weather.
“We’re not going to stop looking though. But there’s a chance we won’t see it again until the winds die down.
“It took us six months to catch the last one, so it might not be a quick process in rescuing this one.
“There are plenty of pigeons and seagulls about, so it’ll be hard to convince to it fly down with our bait.
“But it was last seen as recent as Tuesday night and we’ve got a team of staff out in the same area looking for it still.
“The problem is, if it’s hiding in a tree at the moment, it will be very well camouflaged and it will be hard to spot.”
Meanwhile, Mr Horne warned the public not to approach the owl, which has a whopping wingspan of six foot.
“You might get some hap-hazard guy going out who could get torn to bits. These are really big, powerful birds.”
The owl has caused chaos over the past few weeks, leaving residents terrified of going outside.
Noel Hill, 50, of Inverness, was also attacked by the same bird and had to fight it off with his fists before it was frightened away.