We attended the local Winterfest this weekend and there was a group that put on a wonderful raptor program. This Barn Owl was one of the featured birds of prey.
With a packed room and many kids in the crowd I was surprised at how calm the birds were. Ellen the program interpreter showed us a Snowy Owl and explained many interesting facts about them. One being that the Snowy Owl will in fact come down into the lower 48 during the winter moths. But scientists previously thought it was because scarcity of food was driving the owls to look further for food. What we know now is that it is because the food sources were so abundant and so many of the chicks that were hatched were successfully fledged that the parents are driving the young out of their territory.
The Screech Owl can make a loud screeching call when alarmed, but typically it makes a low trilling call. These are one of the smallest owls in our area at about 6-8 inches. They nest in tree cavities and eat small rodents and even larger insects like grasshoppers.
This Barred Owl is a mid-sized owl and has the typical “who cooks for you, who cooks for youuuu” call. We have a lot of Barred Owls near us. This past fall we saw one dead in the road from a car impact. Out of respect we moved the owl to the field as it’s final resting place…doing much more good for the soil than being ground into the pavement.
It wasn’t all birds of prey at the Winterfest. There was a chili cook-off and a nice ice sculpture display. This was one of my favorites.
When you live in a part of the country that has a long winter it’s important to make the most of it. Skiing and ice skating are surefire ways to get out and about in the winter, but this was also a nice way to get outside and walk around town. What’s your favorite winter activity?