Whoo whoo’s ready for Halloween? As the sun sets and costumed candy hunters emerge, so will owls like this great horned owl @mypubliclands Marion Creek Campground in Alaska. Great horned owls are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Their excellent night vision, acute hearing and silent flight makes them practically magical. Their eyes don’t move in their sockets, but they can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees to look in any direction, making them nature’s perfect, lovable creeper. Just remember: even when you’re not watching wildlife on public lands – they’re watching you. Muhaha! Happy Owloween! Photo by Kerry Howard (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The deep canyon of the Snake River in Idaho, with its crags and crevices and thermal updrafts, is home to the greatest concentration of nesting birds of prey in North America – and perhaps, the world. To preserve this remarkable wildlife habitat, the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area was established in 1993. Visitors are often treated to the sight of hawks, owls, eagles and falcons launching from their cliffside aeries to soar and hunt on warm air currents rising from the canyon floor. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).
Today is International Owl Awareness Day, a day that’s especially important because owls are fantastic at disguise — making awareness of them challenging. Fierce hunters, owls fly silently and have excellent hearing and eyesight. There are 19 species of owls found in North America and plenty of opportunities to spot these birds on public lands or in your backyard.
Burrowing owl (owl in the photo) awareness facts:
– They hiss when frightened to mimic a snake
– They will sometimes decorate their burrows with dung to attract their favorite food, dung beetles
– Sometimes they dig their own burrows and sometimes they’ll use the burrows dug by other animals like tortoises or prairie dogs.
Whoo has seen an owl on a national park, national wildlife refuge or any other public lands? We want to know!
Photo of a burrowing owl at Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge in California by Sarah Chan (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The mornings and evenings are alive with the songs of birds and other wildlife at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, a vital oasis in the high desert of Nevada. Located 75 miles from Reno, it’s some of the only water around, providing a refreshing marsh for a variety of birds and other wildlife. Egrets, herons, hawks, owls, waterfowl and shorebirds all thrive there and you may even see coyotes, mule deer, or pronghorn as you explore the area. Photo by Marie Nygren, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Green and vibrant, Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge on Kaua‘i’s north shore shows off the Hanalei River Valley in Hawaii. Steep hillsides and stunning overlooks surround the wetlands and river valley with mountain views. The refuge was created to provide over 900 acres of vital habitat for rare and endangered birds such as the Hawaiian stilt, coot, gallinule and duck. Photo by Timothy Burton (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Leave behind the hustle and bustle to spend calm moments at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. Lake Mattamuskeet is the centerpiece of the refuge and at 40,100 acres, is North Carolina’s largest natural lake. Promising scenic water views, walking trails and peaceful surroundings, visitors find the refuge a serene excursion while visiting the Outerbanks. Lake Mattamuskeet provides a reliable place to see birds and other wildlife living their best lives. Photo of a sunrise flight by Keith Ramos, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Dawn breaks at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and the marsh comes alive with the cheery birdsong of the red-winged blackbird. The refuge consists of 31,551 acres marshes, tidal creeks and bottomland hardwoods, providing vital food and homes for wildlife and a great place to explore in Georgia and South Carolina. Visitors enjoy the scenic 4-mile Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, that promises views of many bird species, from bald eagles to anhingas and an excellent chance to see American alligators, big and small. Bring bug spray, a sense of adventure and your binoculars. Photo courtesy of Pat Moore.
The largest of the eared or tufted owls in North America, the great horned owl is a wonderful and fascinating bird. Covered in extremely soft feathers that insulate them against cold weather and help them fly very quietly in pursuit of prey, their short, wide wings allow them to maneuver among the trees of the forest. Rarely seen because of their camouflage coloring, their calls are familiar across the country. Photo of a great horned owl in Louisiana by Dennis Demcheck, U.S. Geological Survey.
On the Delaware coast, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge occupies a maze of waterways and wetlands. The area provides us with an appreciation of how people, land resources and wildlife have coexisted and collectively shaped the current surroundings. A nationally recognized birding spot, the refuge attracts people as well as hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Photo by Gene Bailey (www.sharetheexperience.org).
One adorable barred owl. Check. The Great Backyard Bird Count runs from February 15 – 19 and encourages everyone to take 15 minutes in your backyard – or on public lands– and count the birds. Owls often get an early start on nesting each year and they’ll begin incubating their eggs in February. In a few short weeks we can be on the lookout for chicks like this one. Photo by Mark Danaher, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.