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Family Time: Hey, owls: Don’t call us, we’ll call you

December 20, 2018

Who knows what you might hear at Whitewater State Park’s Owl Prowl program. Open to family members of all ages, the program is designed to introduce participants to the owls of Whitewater.

“We start inside the nature center with a 30-minute presentation on the owls of our area. There are five that are common to Whitewater: great horned, barred, screech, saw-whet, long-eared,” said Sara Holger, Whitewater State Park lead interpretive naturalist. “We learn about their habitat, their preferred diet, their calls — and where you might hear them in Rochester.”

Then the group heads out for a one-mile hike through the park, in search of owls.

“We head out on the park’s Discovery Loop,” said Holger, noting that the program typically draws 30 to 60 participants. “You can bring a flashlight, but it’s usually brighter out there than you think, especially once your eyes adjust. And if there’s enough snow, participants can borrow snow shoes from the park.”

Then it’s time to turn out the lights, and make some calls — owl calls.

“We pretty typically hear an owl,” said Holger. “Though there’s no guarantee. It’s only happened to me a couple of times where we’ve seen the owls we’ve called.”

The program is free, though a State Park pass is required ($7 per day, $35 for the year). Pre-registration is not required.

“We’ll be outdoors. Dress for the weather: coat, boots, snow pants,” said Holger. “It’s going to be awesome. It’s a pretty popular program. We usually get a really good turnout. It gets families outside, in the dark, doing something they haven’t done before.”

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