Where to Take Kids on an Owl Prowl

November 14, 2016
Take kids on an Owl Prowl i and you may see or hear a great horned owl.
Mass AudubonTake kids on an owl prowl and you may see or hear a great horned owl.

As the days get shorter, the leaves start falling, and winter gets closer, it becomes easier to spot wildlife. For owl fans, the bare trees make it easier to catch sight of the majestic birds’ silhouettes, though patience is a necessary requirement when out looking for owls. It helps to go with an expert, who knows what to look for in the wild.

One great resource in New England is the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee, a bird rehabilitation center which specializes in raptors (hawks, eagles, and owls are all raptors). Healthy birds that can’t be released into the wild live at the center in outdoor aviaries. Educational programs and walks are often offered at the center. In the Northeast, owls you may see, or more likely hear, include barred, barn, screech, and great horned owls.

Many other nature organizations also offer organized owl excursions, some specifically for families and kids. Here are upcoming opportunities in New England to learn about owls and hopefully catch sight of some of the fascinating creatures.

Family Owl Prowl
Sat., Nov. 19, 6-7 p.m.
Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary, Attleboro
The evening begins indoors with an interactive owl presentation about the “Owls of Massachusetts” and owl pellet dissection. There will be a number of biofacts to examine and touch and a discussion of many of the interesting adaptations owls have. After that, head outside on the trail to listen for evidence of our feathery friends. Registration is required. Suitable for children 7 and up. Register online or call 508-223-3060.

Owl Prowl Adventures under the Moon
Sat., Dec. 3, 4:30-6 p.m.
Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, Natick
Ever wondered if an owl really is as smart as they say? Why don’t we hear them when they fly? Just how far can an owl see? Go with the whole family to learn about owl calls, behavior and habitat as you search and listen for the sanctuary’s resident screech, barred and great horned owls. Suitable for children over age 6 and registration is required. Register online or call 508-655-2296.

Owl Prowl at Mays Refuge
Sun., Nov. 20, 7-9 p.m.
Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge, Coventry
Bundle up and go on a night hike on the Maxwell Mays Refuge in search of owls. The group will call for different species as you travel through mixed and pine woods. While you never know if you’ll actually get to hear or see an owl, participants will be sure to learn a lot and have a great night hike. Wear warm clothing and shoes or boots. Bring a flashlight. Hike will be canceled in the event of inclement weather.
Suitable for ages 12 and up.

Owl Prowl

Sat., Nov. 26, 7 p.m.
Center at Pomfret
Join guide Andy Rzeznikiewicz as he attempts to call in various owl species.  Screech, barred, and great-horned owls are likely at this time of year. Maybe even a Saw-whet will show up. The group will carpool to several locations and the majority of the owls will be seen from the road.

Eyes On Owls
Sat., Dec 10, 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4:15pm
Gilsland Farm, Falmouth
Join naturalist Marcia Wilson and photographer Mark Wilson for Maine Audubon’s annual live owl show (offered at three times). Each show includes a hooting lesson, an entertaining slideshow, and a close-up look at several different owl species. The Wilsons’ owl sanctuary is licensed to house up to 22 owls and they typically bring six to eight owls of different species with them when they come to Maine. Learn more about them on their website.

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Kim Foley MacKinnon

Along with Ethan Hipple, Kim Foley MacKinnon writes AMC’s Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog. She is a Boston-based editor, journalist, and travel writer whose work has appeared in the Boston Globe, AAA Horizons, Travel + Leisure, and USA Today, among other publications. Kim has been writing about what to do and where to go in New England since her teenager was a toddler. Her latest book for AMC is Outdoors with Kids Boston.