Mysterious World of Owls
Wolf Creek Environment Center, Hosted by volunteers from the Medina Raptor Center
My wife and I got a chance to see one of our favorite raptors, which happens to be any of the owl species, up close at the Wolf Creek Environment Center in Sharon Township. Due to a misprint of the start time in the newspaper a few of us arrived a half hour late. This actually worked out great because the the volunteers from the Medina Raptor Center revised the schedule and let a second group view the raptors following the originally 7PM scheduled viewing.
Of all the things I've been able to photograph in the wild, the Owl has eluded my camera for the most part. The program included four different species of owls with my favorite being the Great Horned Owl. The first two raptors were smaller owls, approximately 7-10 inches in height, with the first being an Eastern Screech and the second an Eastern Screech Owl in it's gray phase. Screech owls are named for their piercing calls and the volunteers played a few recorded bird calls for the audience to hear. These little guys look cute but they're pure killers. Their talons and beaks are designed to tear their prey to pieces so they can swallow bite size chunks. Cool? Not yet, there's even more great owls to see.
The next owl brought out was sleek and tall with a white and tan coloration to it's feathers. This girl only had one eye (sorry, I can't remember how she lost it) and it found a permanent home with the Medina Raptor Center. The owl was the good old Barn Owl. The Common Barn Owl is the most widely distributed species of owl, finding homes in just about every location other than deserts and the poles. There's a good chance that any one of you reading this post will see one of these beautiful raptors in the wild at some point in time.
The last two owls brought out were the Barred Owl and my favorite, the Great Horned Owl. Why is the Great Horned Owl my favorite? Thanks to the Medina Raptor Volunteers, I have learned that Great Horned Owls are the only real predator of Skunks! Yes, they EAT Skunks. I have to get one of these as a pet. I guess Great Horned Owls have no real sense of smell, thus, makes the good old Skunks primary line of defense useless. The Great Horned owl can also exert up to 750lbs of force with those bulky talons of theirs. Yes, this Raptor is designed to Kill.
Posted below are a few photos that I took at the Wolf Creek Environment Center. You can view the full high resolution gallery at http://digitalphotosbydale.smugmug.com/Places-Parks-Museums/Wolf-Creek-Environment-Center/
Would like you like to learn more about owls? If so, check out this publication by the Department of Natural Resource.