We were happy to have another Elkhart County Parks program at Ox Bow Park! We missed it the last two months. We always have to check out the wildlife viewing window. Lots of cardinals, red belled woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatches, and a friendly squirrel, among other animals. My son thought the squirrel was a baby squirrel, but it's really just a smaller type of squirrel. We even saw a turkey vulture flying later. A sign of spring!
As the children gathered, Krista told the children a story about a baby owl who was taken from his nest while still young. The baby owl was hidden in his room and then needed rehabilitation. While the owl eventually was released, it still had frequent human contact, often bringing "gifts"of mice to the rehabilitator's door.
She shared a few books, showed us the various types of owls that are typically in the area, and even the snowy owl which is atypical. This snowy owl was found in Goshen. It traveled south from Canada to find more food and then was fatigued and without its home.
The children had lots of questions and comments. They liked getting close to the owls.
The children made owl snacks.
Then we went outside to look for an owl. Krista knows these woods and the habits of owls in this area. She often sees a barred owl near the building. To me, this is what truly makes these programs well worth it. I know how to find information about owls, can get neat activities and snacks, read books, etc.; however, we were able to be in direct contact with a naturalist who knows about the animals in Ox Bow Park. She answers our questions, we meet other families with similar interests, and make connections with our prior knowledge. It also validates and reinforces that I've learned lots! The children really enjoy it and get to connect to nature in another way.
We were all pretty amazed to see the barred owl fly from tree to tree. It would be hard to notice this if we weren't looking for it.
We also checked for Owl Pellets nearby.
When we returned, we dissected preschool friendly owl pellets.
Later that afternoon, I asked my son about the owls. He told me about the different calls and seeing one fly in the trees. When he did his calls, he covered his ears like this. Glad he's making some connections. His owl call video is hilarious. :-) It made him laugh too.
Indiana DNR Owls: Nocturnal Neighbors