Beautiful feathered owls. How many folks have had the opportunity to see owls in the wild? Or for that matter…how many folks have seen an owl at all? Several weeks ago, we joined our neighbors for an owl walk presentation by Scott Heth, Director of the Sharon Audubon Center, for the New Hartford Land Trust (NHLT). The Sharon Audubon Center is a Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, CT that features a Wildlife Rehabilitation Programs for birds, specializing in birds of prey. This particular owl walk event was arranged by Madeline McClave of the NHLT. We were persuaded by our neighbors to attend with the dinner carrot dangled in front of us……if you go, we can all go for dinner afterward. It worked as we are not ones to pass on the promise of dinner with friends. I picked up my camera on my way out the door deciding to leave my flash units behind. After all, if we did see an owl in the wild, I didn’t wish to spook it.
Scott Heth being introduced by Madeline McClave of NHLT.
Scott’s presentation was good, as was his style and personality. From his vehicle, Scott had brought out a tiny owl and queried us as to what it was called. My reply was “little”. Scott was amused. He shared many little known owl facts….some of which I wish I still didn’t know so I won’t share them here!
Scott and his wife had brought along three owls with him in the event none were seen on the actual walk which would take place after the sun set. This first tiny owl is a miniature version if the classic owl one tends to think of when owls are mentioned, a mini version of the Wise potato chip owl. It’s actually a Northern Saw-whet owl. This particular one had been hit by a car and rescued. It was fascinating to note that the owls will constantly look at the person holding them. That, it was explained, is because they get used to being handled in a particular way.
The tiny little Northern Saw-whet Owl perches on Scott’s finger.
The second owl Scott retrieved from his vehicle had to be about six times the size of the first owl. This one was a barred owl, named so for the striped bars on its body. This owl also has large horizontal bars or bands on the tail which you may see in flight against its gray feathered background. This is how the owl got its name, “bar–ed” owl. We have one of these living out behind our auction barn in Canton. It is amazing how well it camouflage’s itself against the tree bark.
The third and final show & tell owl Scott revealed to us was a Screech owl. I never knew what they looked like but years ago one scared the daylights out of me. I was returning from NYC late at night with a friend who was dropping me off. I opened the door of the car and heard these blood curdling screams. I thought someone was being murdered and quickly shut the car door. It was summertime. My ex-husband was in the bedroom above where the car was sitting. I cranked open the car window and asked my girlfriend what she thought was going on. We were trying to figure out what it was when from above us came my ex-husband’s voice…..”it’s just a screech owl!” My girlfriend and I had a good laugh. Now here I was, practically face to face with one. It didn’t look at all how I had imagined it would except for its size. It was rather large. It was brown and had “fluffy” ears.
All three of these owls were rescues and Scott enlightened us to the way of owls in a most interesting way. The NHLT had an impressive turnout for the event. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, but we all left for dinner before the sun actually set. Scott had wrapped up his talk and was preparing his owl hoot recordings and flashlight with the hope of locating owls in the wild. We hope he had luck finding some for the folks who followed him into the woods.