|A barred owl in winter|
Five owl species regularly breed in Wisconsin, and a few others have been spotted around the state, yet their nocturnal habits, sparse distributions, and early (and chilly!) nesting periods combine to make sightings awfully scanty. From screech owls to the great horned owl, now is the time to hear or spot these cloaked crooners.
One common owl that has been making quite a racket around town is the barred owl. Learn about these raucous raptors and their jumble of cackles, hoots, caws, and gurgles - especially their distinctive "who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all" hooting. See one in action and listen to their calls. Sound familiar?
| This snowy owl was spotted in Racine, WI on Dec 22, 2011.|
Gregory Shaver / The Racine Journal Times via AP
Snowy owls, which are rarely seen south of Canada, have been reported across the northern U.S. this winter, likely being driven further south due to food scarcity in their native Arctic tundra habitat. Keep your eyes and ears out - several have been reported around the area, and a snowy owl with an injured wing was rescued from a barn near Monroe and is being nursed back to health at the Dane County Human Society. [Update: Check out this cool interactive map showing snowy owl sitings around Wisconsin!]
Pass the time until nightfall with these fun links, events and activities:
- Make your own adorable snowy owl friends out of pinecones.
- Want to see what kinds of owls and other birds live in our area? Check out this Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas for a listing of species and other great info.
- Eagle Owls don't live around Wisconsin, but this slow-motion video of Eurasia's largest owl lunging towards a camera is too cool!
- Did you know a group of owls is called a "parliament"? Ever heard of an "unkindness" of ravens or a "rafter" of turkeys? Learn some of the funny names for bird and animal groupings and quiz your friends and family.
- Take a "Snow Moon" Night Walk around the UW Arboretum this Saturday, Feb. 4.
- Race the clock to solve this barred owl jigsaw puzzle.
- Get certified to participate in the Western Great Lakes Owl Monitoring Survey, and you can help to identify and catalogue owls in our area.
- Read about other bird bonding with this romantic tale from the International Crane Foundation.
Have a hoot out there, and let us know if you hear or spot anything!