Children get close encounters with owls

| March 18, 2019

COSHOCTON – Children and their parents got a unique look at three different types of owls at an event held at the Coshocton Community Center on Brown’s Lane and sponsored by the Emmanuel Lutheran Church. On Saturday, March 16, the children got to make an owl pillow, mask and color a picture before meeting Winnie, Barkley and Monty.

Gail Laux, from the Ohio Bird Sanctuary, near Mansfield, introduced Winnie, a screech owl, first. Although many of the children thought she was small, Laux explained she was actually large for her breed. “Winnie is four years old. Watch how far she can turn her head – 280 degrees. Since her spine is fused so she can fly, she needs to be able to turn her head that much.”

Laux also said that screech owls come in two color phases, grey and red. “Winnie is a grey phase. When she is scared, she will stand perfectly still in the tree and her color will camouflage her. The red phase is found in areas with lots of pine trees and they blend into the reddish color of those trees.” Laux said the owls cannot change their colors for their environment.

Her barred owl, Barkley, had been hit by a car and brought to the sanctuary to heal.  “He lost part of his wing and has limited vision, so he will be staying with us.”  Barkley’s eyes are pear-shaped, with the smallest part being what can be seen. “This helps him see better in the dark.” She said barred owls like wet, wooded areas.

Monty, a barn owl, was the last to be shown to the group. “Notice the underside of his wings – how white they are and how silent his wings are when he moves them,” said Laux. “This helps him sneak up on his prey. Barn owls are also known as ghost owls, because they are so quiet, have white wings, and they like to live in abandoned houses and barns.”

Barn owls are the oldest known species of owl. “Scientists know barn owls existed in the Ice Age – but they were man-size, like many of the species that lived then.  They have gotten much, much smaller.” Laux also explained the “dance” that Monty was doing with his head. “He is moving his head in small triangles so he can hear better. One of his ears is above his eye; the other is under the other eye.”

Monty’s unique hearing can help him hear prey a quarter of a mile away. “He can tell how big the animal is by the heartbeat and breathing he hears. Small animals have faster heartbeats. He can even tell if his prey is male or female and will choose to eat a pregnant female over a male.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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