Wildlife Wednesday 05/22/2024

Whooooo’s ready for our upcoming owl prowl? It’s #WildlifeWednesday and we will highlight the 3 species of owls we are most likely to encounter on our grounds this time of year.

The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl in Ohio and with its enormous yellow eyes, long ear tufts, and deep hooting call, it is the classic owl that jumps to mind from storybooks and drawings. Its preferred habitat includes woods interspersed with fields and open areas, as well as swamps, wetlands, meadows, orchards, and agricultural land, making The Wilderness Center and its surrounding area an ideal location for it to call home. The Great Horned Owl is almost strictly nocturnal, with peak activity occurring after dusk and before dawn. This massive powerful owl is at the top of the bird of prey food chain and has no predators.

The Barred Owl is a sizable owl with length measurements comparable to those of the Great Horned, but with only half the weight. The Barred Owl has dark black eyes, prominent facial discs, and lacks ear tufts. An extremely vocal owl, its call is described by the mnemonic “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?” Pairs will often perform duets with this song, vocalizing loudly for extended periods of time. The Barred Owl has a delicate and graceful flight style as it swoops through forests and prefers wooded areas over open spaces. While most active at night, the Barred Owl can sometimes be seen during the day roosting on tree branches and inside cavities. 

The Eastern Screech-owl is Ohio’s smallest and most common owl, occurring in all 88 counties. This small owl is about the size of an American Robin, though double the weight. It has wide yellow eyes, ear tufts, and can come in two color morphs, red or gray. Its vocalization is not actually a screech, but instead a combination of whistles, trills, and whinnies. The Eastern screech-owl is very adaptable and can occupy a wide variety of habitats, including woodlands, suburbs, urban areas, and woodlots. Its diet is more varied than any other North American owl, preying upon rodents, birds, insects, and worms.

Join us tomorrow for our Owl Prowl night hike from 8:30-9:30 pm as we keep our eyes and ears open for owls!

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