Everything Animals: Owls 101 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Everything Animals: Owls 101

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Viglienzoni: Welcome back. I'm joined by Craig Newman from Outreach for Earth Stewardship. And we're also joined by Elfric the Eastern Screech Owl. Are they pretty active this time of year?

Newman: They are. Most of our owl species here in Vermont are starting to breed or may have already bred. Actually the screech owl is kind-of a misnomer, they make kind-of a whinnying sound.

Viglienzoni: And what kind of markings should people look for if they're going to try to go find a screech owl?

Newman: Well these guys are, as you can see, pretty well camouflaged, and this particular species comes in two different color phases. They come in a grey and a rusty or rufus, red phase. Both of them blend in quite well with tree bark and their surroundings, so often seen and not heard.

Viglienzoni: And this is a barred owl named J.J. -- you said barred owls like this are more active this time of year than other owls?

Newman: They're pretty active this time of year. They're just beginning their breeding so very vocal. And one of the owls you're more likely to see during the daylight hours. They sound like "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all". If they have those dark brown eyes they're definitely a barred owl. All the rest of our owls have light-colored green or yellow eyes.

Viglienzoni: And this is a Northern Saw-Whet Owl, which you said may not be as active this time of year.

Newman: We're probably going to be coming into their active time in the next few weeks.

Viglienzoni: And so obviously it's distinguished by its size -- you said it's a snack-sized owl for some creatures, but what else kind-of distinguishes this owl when people are listening for it?

Newman: They have a very distinctive call that kind-of sounds like a backup alarm on a truck maybe.

Viglienzoni: And where can people look to find them?

Newman: Well, being so small they're kind-of difficult to find. They like to find places where there's lots of places to hide. But if they are migrating, sometimes we'll see them together in groups.

Viglienzoni: And we're going to finish up with the Great-Horned Owl. This one's named Mattie. What's the most striking thing about a Great-Horned Owl?

Newman: Just their sheer size and power. Their talons are quite sharp, as you can see, and their massive beak. These guys are the rulers of the sky at night.

Viglienzoni: And what do they sound like?

Newman: These are the classic "Whoo". There are five hoots in a typical Great-Horned owl call.

Viglienzoni: And normally yellow eyes, but she's blind so we don't see that with her.

Newman: No, her eyes over the past 19 years have pretty much cateracted due to the fact that she lost her vision in a car collision.

Viglienzoni: And we should mention that you have these owls because you're rehabbing them and you have special permits for that sort of thing.

Newman: Actually they're a special possession permit that allows us to keep birds for educational purposes. Hopefully teach people why these birds are so important in the overall health of our ecosystem.

Viglienzoni: Well Craig Newman thank you for joining us, and we'll come back to you some other time for more birds.

Newman: Great!

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