This is the second in our series on owls – ourlocal night-flying birds of prey. Whenyou head outdoors on Halloween night, we want you to be prepared for thingsthat go “whooo…” in the night.
When our family moved tothe Santa Clarita Valley, we soon learned if we wanted to watch any TV, wewould need either a cable connection or a satellite dish. We chose a satellite dish– a parabolic reflector that receives signals from orbiting satellites. But it turns out that humans weren’t thefirst creatures to take advantage of that parabolic shape.
Before I explain what Imean by that, let me first introduce you to Hopi, a long-time resident of the PlaceritaCanyon Nature Center. Hopi is a barnowl, one of several owl species that are commonly found in southern California.
Isn’t he handsomebird! That heart-shaped facial ruff offeathers looks like it came straight from a Valentine’s Day card. Don’t let that heart-shape fool you – thatfacial ruff works just like parabolic satellite dish, gathering sounds thathelp make the barn owl a formidable night-time hunter. Rodents beware – afamily of barn owls can eat up to 3,000 rodents per year.
Like the GreatHorned Owl we talked about last week, Barn Owls are found throughoutmuch of North America, including suburban areas, agricultural fields andopen spaces. Barn owls get their namefrom their habit of nesting in buildings. It’s a medium sized bird, with alength of 13-16” and a wingspan of 39-49”. It vocalizes with a raspy hiss, rather than the clearly enunciated“whoooo” we normally expect to hear.
It’s a good thing mysatellite dish has a better audio, or I might be tempted to switch to OwlNetwork. For a free preview, check out this Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Weekend Errands. Now you can recycle yourcompact fluorescent light bulbs at your local HomeDepot Store. Take your expired, unbroken lamps to the returnscounter at any Home Depot Store. According to recent Waste Management newsletter, one CFL can save $30 inenergy costs over its lifetime, reduce coal consumption by 200 pounds andprevent more than 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emission. But carry those expired bulbs carefully,because they contain toxins.
Saturday, October 18, 8:00-10:00 AM. Bird Hike at Towsley Canyon.
For maps and directions,click here.
Sponsored by the MountainsRecreation and Conservation Authority.
Weekend events at Placerita Canyon –October 18
FamilyNature Walk (11:00 am – 12:00 pm)
An easy, 1-hour walk exploring the area’s natural and cultural history.
AnimalPresentation (1:00 pm – 2:00 pm)
See, learn and ask questions about live native animals of the area. EverySaturday from 1 to 2 pm.
AmphitheaterNight (6:00 pm – 7:00 pm)
A new program on the 3rd Saturday of each month. This month's topic is"Nightime Animals."
Saturday, October 11 and 25th, and every Wednesday,8:00 am. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon.
Come join our trailmaintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout. For more information contact SteveIoerger at 661-291-1565.
You can listen to storieslike this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radiostation KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.