The bird is the word at Cleveland Metroparks’ Owl Hootenanny at the North Chagrin Reservation. On Jan. 21, amateur ornithologists get a closer look at three owl species during hikes and live animal talks by Lake Erie Nature Center and Cleveland Museum of Natural History experts. We asked Metroparks naturalist Natalie Schroder for the feathery 411 on each creature.
Eastern Screech Owl
At 6 inches long, the smallest owl found year-round in Northeast Ohio nests in tree cavities. But many are losing their habitat as forests age. Hootenanny participants can help by assembling screech owl nesting kits onsite. “This gives people the opportunity to create a safe space for these owls to raise their young as close as [people’s] backyard,” says Schroder.
The barred feather pattern on its chest provides camouflage in its beech-maple forest habitat. One of them has been living in the Nature Center enclosures since 1988. “He’s an old man,” says Schroder, “the oldest owl we have in our facility.”
Great Horned Owl
The largest owl at the reservation ranges from 18 to 20 inches in length and eats everything from screech and barred owls to adult turkeys and skunks.“Their talons are like a vice grip,” says Schroder.