Have you ever heard a hoot-hoot in the woods, and wondered what kind of an owl it could be? It might surprise you to know that owls do much more than hoot. They are raptors, birds of prey, that grab their dinner with claws called talons. There are about 140 different kinds of owls, but only 21 different kinds live in North America, and of those, only 6 live in New Hampshire. My presentation focuses on the six New Hampshire owls.
Owls are amazing creatures that can fly soundlessly through the night sky. Their eyesight is 100 times better in the dark than that of people. Their eyes are like night vision binoculars. Their asymmetrical ears are located in large ear cavities on the sides of their heads. One ear is located high on one side of the head, while the other ear is low on the other side of the head. It is the owl’s exceptional hearing which allows it to catch a mouse in almost complete darkness. First the owl hears the prey, then it turns its head to see the prey. Owls usually eat their prey whole.
Owls cannot chew or grind their food. They cough up what they can’t digest in “poop” pellets. Their pellets usually contain fur and bones. At my presentation, I show several pellets containing bones that I found while hiking.
Have you ever heard an owl hoot or screech? Owls communicate in many ways in order to claim territory, warn of danger or call to a mate. Some people think owl sounds are eerie.
There are five owls that live in New Hampshire all year long. They are the Barred owl, the Eastern Screech Owl, the Great Horned Owl, the Long-Eared Owl, and the Screech Owl. The Snowy Owl is occasionally seen in the winter when the weather is severe. These nocturnal birds of prey are important to the ecosystem of an area. We should all give a hoot about owls!
Owls are endangered. Years ago, people killed owls to protect smaller livestock. Farmers used chemicals to protect crops, plants and trees from insects. Those chemicals hurt the owls. Natural habitats of owls have been destroyed as people move into wilderness areas.
Give a Hoot about Owls is a 60 minute, multimedia, hands-on presentation for people of all ages. Owl puppets, along with the plastic owl food are used along with recordings of owl screeches and hoots during a slide show. If you are interested in having John and Jackie Stetser come and give a presentation on owls, send Jackie an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and put PRESENTATIONS in the Re: box.
Photos from the Audobon society.