Parker County Today October 2016 - Page 53

the dark hours of the night there is little activity followed by hunting again just before dawn. To watch an owl hunt is exciting. Hunting rarely involves extensive flight, but does include short bursts of speed to attack its surprised prey – quite the sight to see. The size of owls can range from 5-28 inches with wingspans between one and six feet. Rodents are their desired prey with some smaller species even going for insects. In terms of appearance, owls are characterized by a flat face, a small hooked beak and forward-facing eyes. Their eyes are often one of their defining characteristics. Did you know an owl can turn its head more than 180 degrees in either direction? Their vision is binocular which allows for excellent hunting. Most owls have a short tail with rounded wings and large feet with sharp talons. Owls live in all sorts of habitats from grassland and tundra to rainforest and woodland. They tend to nest in trees, cliffs or natural tree cavities or even old woodpecker holes. Some like the Barn Owl may use cavities in buildings. Surprisingly, not much nesting material is used besides the fur and feathers of accumulated remains of prey. Most owls nest in the spring however some, such as the Barn Owl have been found to nest in every month of the year! Owls feathers are soft, dense and loose. For northern owls, a thick layer of down provides insulation against frigid temperatures. The upper surface of the Owls feathers consist of a “nap” that makes an owl’s flight completely noiseless which in turn allows the owl to hear its prey as well. To see such a large bird flying in complete silence is remarkable. Owls are important to the food chain and for scientists, an important key to the health of their particular ecosystem. Without owls and other raptors we would have an overabundance of rodents and small animals that they prey upon. Their worth cannot be underestimated. Some owls kill several thousand rodents during a nesting season and keep JOIN US OCT 15-16 C S ® E nature’s food chain in balance. In addition to rodent control, their remarkable beauty and distinctive and magical “hoots” are unique and fascinating for all bird lovers alike. Look to the trees at night and good luck spotting or hearing one! Wild Bird Center of Weatherford Grand Opening D W D BIR IL Hawk DOOR PRIZES • SPECIALS • GIVEAWAYS & MORE! NTER Events all weekend long! LIVE BIRDS OF PREY SATURDAY OCTOBER 15, 2016 | 12 PM–3 PM 20% Off Your Entire Purchase Free Small Bag of Bird Seed with any $10 Purchase SUNDAY OCTOBER 16, 2016 | 2 PM–4 PM Native Plant Society - Weatherford Chapter Answer questions & provide educational material Door prizes given away every hour* | Bird Feeder Give-Away at 12 Noon and 2 pm both days Every purchase over $75 will be entered to win a Feeder Station valued over $200! (Drawing Sunday at 3 pm, winner notified via email) *Must be present to win all prizes. Wild Bird Center of Weatherford | Weatherford Ridge 325 Adams Dr., Ste 309 • Weatherford, 76086 • (817) 776-5253 • wildbird.com/weatherford PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY Please join us for fabulous events & prizes all weekend long in celebration! OCTOBER 2016 ALL WEEKEND! PLUS Get up close & personal! Raptor Educational Talk 51