The kids and I had such a crazy adventure on Saturday night! I heard about this night-time Family Hike that was happening at Tryon Creek, and on a whim decided to sign us up. It was absolutely amazing! That Great Horned Owl up there has been taxidermied, otherwise he would have been thinking about ripping my face off - they're so serious!
|Hi, I'm a barred owl, and I'd like to eat your cat!|
We started off this informational session in just the right way - dissecting owl pellets! (Hopefully, you're not eating right now...I'm just saying.) Here are some fun owl facts that we learned: owl pellets are NOT poop! They're not really even throw up! An owl is not able to chew its food, but it can somehow separate the fur, feathers and bones from the good stuff, then sort of spits all that back out onto the ground. Classy! Oh my gosh, this was seriously so much fun...
We sat down at our stations to unroll a little tin foil object about the size of a prune. You have to start by prying away at the tightly rolled up fur, then voila! Here come the goodies! Bones! You can't believe how funny it is to hear kids and adults alike getting so excited about this process, saying out loud, "Oh, I found teeth!" "WOW! You've got a skull!"
|Ollie didn't care so much about touching the icky - |
especially when he figured out those were - gulp - rodent teeth!
|R.I.P. little mouse.|
After a while, we had to clean up and move on to the next classroom to learn more owl facts, but the kids could have done this all night. In fact, Oliver almost stole one of the pellets for later, but I made him put it back. I wonder if you can buy those things on Amazon...
Did you know that owls can't smell? And that they have double the number of vertebrae in their necks compared to what humans have, and that's what allows them to turn their heads in that crazy way. I didn't know that their ears are at slightly different levels on their head - it's true! Owls are awesome.
The final part of this night, as I mentioned, was a hike into the dark woods to see if we could hear the nesting pair of Great Horned owls that have been making a ruckus in the park lately. Have you ever done a night hike? And I don't mean having to pee in the middle of the night while camping - I mean going on a walk in the freaky forest at night??? What the heck was I thinking?! It gave me a whole new respect for Snow White, getting grabbed at by those spooky trees! Yikes!
As we started out in our small group with two other kids and their parents, plus our guide (who asked us not to use our flashlights, haha!), these thoughts started to race through my head..."This isn't so bad. Are there bears out here? So glad it's not that cold. Must breathe. What was that? Glad it's not raining too hard. How can they walk so fast? Breathe. I feel like I'm being watched. Am I scarring the kids for life? What was that???"
Luckily, the guide stopped us a couple times to talk about more owl facts and to show us their nests. We never did hear them, but they were obviously out there, laughing at us, probably.
On our first stop, she asked the kids what owls eat, and then proceeded to pull a rabbit out of her bag! Dead, of course. The next two pictures are probably the worst two pics you'll ever see on a blog, but I was proud of my new lens for getting them in the absolute darkness, with only a flashlight for help.
|So that's what a mole looks like!|
She also had a squirrel skin and a skunk too, which I couldn't pass up touching. She said an owl would eat a skunk because as you learned earlier, they can't smell! See, owls are awesome!