Owl prowls this weekend
Niagara Nature Tours is offering another owl prowl, an opportunity to see owls such as this grey screech, this Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20 and 21. Photo by Wayne Allen
Niagara Nature Tour’s fourth annual day-time owl prowl will be held this weekend.
“We have worked very hard to find the locations of wild owls for us to see, and are hoping to see three to four native species this year,” says Carla Carlson, owner of the tour company. The owls are found from Niagara West through to Fort Erie.
For the very first Owl Prowl in 1998, 21 people signed up, said Carlson.
“We saw four species and seven owls in total, which is fabulous because of how secretive they are. Since we were able to start conducting (the owl prowls) again in 2013, at least 327 people have seen five to six species and on one memorable day, 13 individual owls. In the past we have seen eastern screech, northern saw-whet, snowy, long-eared, short-eared and a great horned owl on her nest.”
Carlson says several NOTL residents have reported hearing great horned owls singing at this time of year. The owls are very territorial, she says, and almost any woodlot or forested area should have a pair of great horned owls, the mother sitting on her nest. They are most likely to be heard at dusk, and provide an opportunity for residents to find their nest - but should be very careful not to disturb the mother or she could abandon her eggs.
Scouts are on the look-out for owls in NOTL and other areas, and although she isn’t promising anything, she hopes to have found a pair of great-horned owls to include in the prowl this weekend.
A lot of work goes into organizing an owl prowl and many hours over months are put in ahead of time scouting for the owls, says Carlson, so that on the day of the prowl, there is a good chance at actual sightings.
“And this time of year is a good time to see the owls. The leaves are off the trees, the birds are out flying and hunting and some are sitting in nest boxes. If we are lucky we’ll see a great horned owl sitting on her nest. It’s the right time of the year as believe it or not they’ve already bred and laid their eggs.”
Riding in a motor coach with a washroom and comfortable seats, says Carlson, the group will be escorted by Marcie Jacklin from Fort Erie, an internationally recognized local birder explaining about Niagara’s owls. Entertaining participants with owl songs, facts, and quizzes, there are draws and owl related prizes that Carlson has collected throughout the year. There will also be a draw for four people to go to Vineland’s Owl Foundation during their annual donor tours in the autumn.
There will be a break for lunch at the Smokin’ Buddha or Canalside Restaurants in Port Colborne.
“We are giving people a choice of which restaurant to go to as the Smokin’ Buddha is famous for its spicy, exotic food.”
Fun for both young and old alike, there is limited walking so it is a very accessible outing. Seniors with walkers have attended in the past, and anyone with a wheelchair accessible vehicle is welcome to follow the bus, and join the tour at each stop, she says.
The field trip runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Registration for the Feb. 20 and 21 owl prowls has started and space is limited, says Carlson.
For more information call 905-562-3746 or 1-888-889-8296 or visit www.niagaranaturetours.ca