The Dallas County Conservation Board offers a variety of programs every month and one such recent program was all about owls. Chris Adkins, Environmental Education Coordinator/Naturalist, presented A Conversation with an Owl at the Kuehn Conservation Area near Earlham.
Approximately 50 people ranging in age from 3 to 73 attended the program. Adkins told the history behind the live owl that he uses for teaching and then brought the wide-eyed, nocturnal creature into the room. Strix, a 6-year-old female barred owl, was injured in a barb wire fence and spent some time at S.O.A.R. with Director Kay Neumann and her staff.
While Strix has been rehabilitated, she had some permanent injuries that would not allow her to be returned to the wild. Now Strix travels to schools and other programs to teach humans about the different owls of Dallas County.
Adkins explained that owls such as Strix, are still very much wild animals and are treated as such. He reiterated that she is not a pet. It was visible that he was comfortable handling her but still used caution. The longest an owl has lived in captivity was 32 years. Adkins told the group if owls in the wild can survive their first year, then they can live anywhere between five to ten years.
Adkins gave different information about owl’s eyesight and hearing. He passed around talons and wings from different owls and played owl calls on the computer for participants to listen to. Some in the audience said they have those same sounds coming from areas of their barns or farms nightly.
A rehabilitated Great Horned Owl was scheduled to be released into the wild the night of this program but the frigid temperatures delayed the release. Adkins hopes to release the Great Horned during the next Owl Prowl on Feb. 7.
For more information about Strix, the upcoming Owl Prowl or the other fantastic programs offered by Dallas County Conservation Board visit www.dallascountyiowa.gov/conservation or call 515-465-3577.