We had the best field trip Friday night.
The Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County hosted an “Owl Prowl and Bonfire” for the kids from the community center. We met at Bucktoe Creek Preserve, which is private property, but is often used by TLCSCC for events like this one. We used the promise of s’mores to tempt our kids into coming, but I think they were all blown away by our experience. They are already talking about doing it again!
Our guides from TLCSCC were very informative. They gathered our group around the bonfire when we arrived to give some general information about the owls they were looking for. The property is home to a screech owl, a bard owl, and the famous great horned owl. Some of the favorite facts we learned: Owls can turn their head 280 degrees, but they can’t move their eyes side to side at all. And they can’t see colors– only gradations of light in grey tones.
The actual owl prowl went something like this: We walked less than a mile to a stand of pine trees where the owls are known to hang out. The sun had set by this time, but it was still light enough to see where you were walking. We had to be absolutely silent– quite a feat for a group of 20 teenagers. Then our guides played owl calls via an iPad with speakers– in hopes that an owl would call back.
And they did! We heard a screech owl first, but couldn’t find it in the trees. Too well hidden, I think. As we walked out of the pine grove, we saw it fly away. And then we heard the cause of his departure: the bard owl. “Who cooks for you!” is basically what this guy sounds like.
And then we saw him. The bard owl was placed perfectly in a tree about 50 feet from us, watching us as we watched him. It was pretty incredible.
After he had seen enough, he flew off. We never did the see the great horned owl. But as we turned to walk back to the bonfire, we saw the biggest meteor I have ever seen in my life. A bright streak across the whole sky, lasting for at least 10 seconds, ending with a bright burst of green. It was incredible.
This was very likely my favorite field trip of all time. And who knew that something so simple like going out into the woods to look for owls– something you can do in your own backyard–would be so magical.