A frigid week in February makes it hard to believe that spring is on the way. AÂ sign of spring toÂ look listen for this monthÂ is hooting, tooting and trilling. Great Horned Owls “advertise” their territoryÂ by hooting. The female’s hoot is higher pitched than the male’s hoot and Great Horned Owls typicallyÂ make an 8 beat hoot. Barred Owls start breeding in the next few weeksÂ and their hootÂ sounds like “Who cooks for you…whooo cooks for you alll”.Â Not all owls hoot. Some screech or trill. Eastern Screech Owls make a wonderful trill and a horse-like whinney. Northern Saw-whet Owls making a tooting sound, which reminds me of a truck backing up. To those scientists who named this species, it sounded more like the whetting of a saw. If you want to learn more about owls and other birds of prey the upcomingÂ ’Owls & other Masters of the Sky’ programs on the first weekend of March will be fantastic! These programs sell out every year, and the World Bird Sanctuary is bringing evenÂ MORE birds this year.Â One of the amazing experiences I always enjoy isÂ the trainedÂ barn owl, which glides silently over the audience. Call Carpenter Nature Center (651-437-4359) to RSVP or visit our website for more information.
Are you a citizen scientist? IfÂ you live in Hastings and hear two owls hooting, tooting or trillingÂ in your neighborhood, or hear owls vocalizing on more than one evening at least five days apart, please drop me an email (Jennifer@CarpenterNatureCenter.org). This is the evidence we need to document breeding owls in our area. The Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas (www.mnbba.org) Â is a 6 yearÂ projectÂ to document bird’s breeding rangesÂ throughout our state. Minnesota is one of the last states to undertake a breeding bird atlas. A Breeding Bird Atlas has great conservation value including establishing a baseline from which to monitor birdÂ species variety and abundance in our state. Just like the story of the canary in the coal mine, a dramatic decline in aÂ species’ breeding range indicates an underlying problem.Â The Breeding Bird Atlas is also a great way for you and your family to lend a hand as a citizen scientist. In the Hastings are we have at least three ‘Priority Blocks’Â in which we have observed 79,67 & 44 bird species.Â However we’ve only documented nesting for 22, 19 & 6 species. From historical records we should be able to document up to 121 breeding birds in our area! We need your eyes and ears.
The naturalists and education volunteersÂ at Carpenter Nature Center have been busy this winter with ‘Winter Survival Classes’Â , ‘Public Snowshoeing Hikes’ and ‘Winter Birds’ programs.Â If you haven’t visited the Nature Center website recently, its worth a visit (www.carpenternaturecenter.org). Alan, one of the naturalists, has posted some great “game cam” photographs of the wildlife which has been visiting a deer carcass, making “Tracks & Trails” classes for local students a whole lot of fun. Until next time I hope to see you on the trails.