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Hoots & Howls at VINS - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hoots & Howls at VINS

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Quechee, Vermont - October 27, 2009

At VINS, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, naturalists work closely with animals we typically associate with Halloween. Holding a cute ghost owl, more commonly known as a barn owl, naturalist Chris Collier chuckles the bird's nickname may be a misnomer: "Unless you're a mouse or vole, you probably wouldn't find them all that scary!"

Asked why do we think of owls at Halloween, Collier answers, "They come out at night, they're mostly nocturnal. Night is the unknown. We're not as comfortable at night."

Beth Roy, another VINS environmental educator, adds, "Most owls are silent flyers. They fly with special feathers on their wings so when they fly they're very quiet. If you do see an owl at night, they sneak up on you like an apparition so maybe that's why they have that spooky reputation."

One of the things people have in their heads as being spooky is the sound owls make. Holding a large bird, Roy says, "This owl, the great-horned owl, is a hoot owl, and they do all kinds of hooting. They hoot to tell where their territory is, and also to attract mates."

At Halloween, we see images of owls, and their eyes always seem to glow. We wondered, do they really glow? Chris Collier explains, "Actually they do reflect. There's a part of their eye that bounces light back. It's a way of helping them see better at night."

The naturalists, the owls, and the whole gang at VINS are having a special Halloween event this Friday. It's the 5th annual Halloween Hoots & Howls Family Event, starting at 5:30 PM. That celebration also features insects and other critters.

For more information, click here.

Jack Thurston - WCAX News

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