This weekend I gave an owl workshop at the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory in Austin. Friday night, we discussed the ecology of the local owls, and then we went on an owl prowl. We were able to get close looks at a couple of Barred Owls that came in and landed nearby in response to our owl calls. Its always a treat to see these birds. In addition to the 40 workshop participants, we were joined on the prowl by 11 teenage girls who work for the Austin Youth River Watch Program--a program that employs at-risk kids in monitoring water quality in the local creeks and river. This was their first owling adventure, and it was great to see them get excited. Sometimes I forget how incredible it is that owls will call back and come in to check you out if you call to them--but for these girls, it was as if a whole new world had opened up. Very cool. (photo credit: Friends of Sherwood Island)
Saturday morning I led another owl prowl at 5:30 am and the birds replied again. Unfortunately, we weren't able to locate any of the Great Horned Owls that nest on the property--but at one point I did hear a distant Barn Owl call. Hornsby Bend is a magic place during the day, and perhaps even more enchanted at night. Nothing beats an owl prowl for mystery and birding excitement. People came from as far away as Houston and the Rio Grande Valley for this workshop, and besides the great Texas BBQ lunch, these responsive Barred Owls made the workshop a great success, and I look forward to running the workshop again next winter.
Next month I'll be down in Austin again for a Purple Martin workshop--another fun exploration of the world we share with birds. And more Texas BBQ!