Each October, Twin Pines Conservation Education Center has a special treat for area schools. Pam Herd-Price, Education Director from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield Missouri, visits with a few of her friends. This time of year we have program requests on three things; spiders, bats and owls. This year, Pam helped us out introducing Bart the Barred Owl, Hedwig the Great-horned Owl and Occhio the Eastern Screech Owl to students from Winona, West Plains, Mtn. View and Willow Springs Elementary schools as well as Truman Elementary in Rolla. 467, in all, attended the programs and discovered a bit more about these stealthy fliers of the night skies.
Students learned about the calls of each owl, specialized structures and how owls are well equipped to handle night flight, but dispelling myths about owls was an important part of the program. Owls are nothing to be feared and they can’t predict anyone’s death. They do however play a very important part in the ecosystems of Missouri. Owls eat anywhere from 1 to 6 mice, rats, voles, shrews and other rodents per night depending on the owl. The students also learned, since owls have no sense of smell, a skunk makes a tasty meal for a great-horned owl. That drew a collective “YUCK” from the audience.
Looking for something to do this fall? Head out to the nearest conservation area, take a hike and take a listen. Owls are capable of making several vocalizations including the familiar “who cooks for you all.” You may even hear an interesting conversation from the parliament of owls in the surrounding area.