Owls at the Library

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On Tuesday the boys and I went to the Madison Public Library to participate in the second session of their Summer Reading program.  They’ve put together a really great line-up this year, which includes craft-sessions, a balloon demonstration–and a presentation called “Owls of Maine”.  Winter has long been fascinated by owls–all animals really, but a special interest in owls, so of coarse we had to attend and listen to Jessica from the Chewonki Traveling Natural History Program tell us more about the owls who live in Maine.

The children’s room at our small-town library was packed with children and their parents, and I worried about how my boys would behave, having less experience in such situations compared to children who attend schools, but they did really well.

*Sigh of relief.*

The concept of raising one’s hand to speak–and then waiting to be called on–was foreign to my boys, but they were not the only transgressors of that social construct, and after a brief request from Jessica all the children were raising their hands to answer or ask questions.  Though Summer had more trouble with it than the others (waving his hand around and fussing to be called on), but Jessica was really patient.

owl crateShe showed us the crates that the owls travel in, and requested that we all keep as quiet as possible so that we don’t frighten the birds–especially once she brought them out.  Then she began by showing us a slide-show featuring the owls that live in Maine, and a couple of frequent visitors.  The Great Horned Owl, the Barred Owl, the Long-Eared Owl, the Northern Saw-Whet Owl, and the Eastern Screech Owl, are all Maine-natives, while the Great Grey Owl, the Northern Hawk Owl, the Boreal Owl and the Snowy Owl are visitors to the state–typically during migrations or times of food scarcity.

For more information about Maine’s Owls check out Mainebirding.

Jessica talked about some of the owl’s distinctive features, like their eyes, feet, and feathers.  Did you know that if a human had eyes the size of an owl’s our eyes would be the size of grapefruits?

screech emergenceAnd after a brief reminder to keep very still and quiet, she brought out the first live owl.

This is the screech owl.  He is full-grown.  Apparently he got caught up in a fence and was rescued, but lost part of his talons or toes, so now he lives at the Chewonki facilities and is well cared for.

screech owl

The next owl Jessica brought out was the Barred Owl.

barred owl

This owl, I think she said, had been hit by a car? and had to have her wing amputated in order to save her.  That must have been a number of years ago, because by law, it is now illegal to remove a bird’s wing.  And I do believe Jessica said this bird was the oldest at their facility at something like 22 years of age.

barred owlPersonally, I think all owls are just magnificent creatures, and it’d be a close toss up as to which one I would name my favorite, but I do believe it would be the Barred Owl.

When we lived out-of-town on “Ye Olde Burns Farm”, I used to listen to the resident Barred Owl calling through the forest, and we even had the privilege of seeing him/her one evening at twilight, in a tree not 25-feet from our front door.  I miss those woods dearly, and that experience is what put Barred Owls over the top for me.

great horned emergenceThe largest owl native to Maine is the Great Horned Owl.  These birds are truly stunning.  They are beautifully colored, with distinctive markings and tufts of feathers, and wonderful piercing eyes.

great horned owl

great horned owl

Prior to attending this event we borrowed a couple of the owl-related books from the library to brush up on our “Owl-Lore”, we looked at a number of websites, and talked about what we like best about owls.  The boys had a really great time, and are looking forward to spending more time at the Madison Public Library, and to participating in some of the other events scheduled for the summer reading program.

Share your thoughts, comments or questions!