Wednesday night I took a dozen kids from church on an owling expedition. We only had an hour, which was about enough time to hit three wooded areas near the church. At the first, where I've had very good close looks at Eastern Screech-Owl in the past, we got nothing. Second stop, same thing. We spent a few extra minutes showing the kids some constellations in the clear December skies, but I was getting nervous. SE Pennsylvania is crawling with screech owls. Where could they be?
Finally our two vans had to blitz down to another spot 10 minutes away where I've had owls in the past. After five minutes of playing the tape, a lone Eastern Screech-Owl answered the call. We couldn't get it to come in close where we could spotlight it, but all the kids got to hear it trilling off in the darkness.
Mission accomplished! Sort of. Most of them still haven't seen an owl, but now they've at least talked to one in the night!