PERRY TWP. The conference room downstairs at the Exploration Gateway in Perry Township was filled to capacity on Jan. 29 as more than 200 people came out to see and learn about three owls from Stark Parks Wildlife Conversation Center.
The event was hosted by the Sippo Branch Library.
Patti Rante, youth services librarian, said the program has been offered before for kids and it had many adults attend. So this time, it was offered it to families.
“I think it is so popular because you really don’t get to see the owls up close,” Rante said. “It’s an educational program because people will hear all about the owls.”
Allison Turlacher and Amanda Perry, from the education department at Stark Parks, brought three different owls out and spoke in depth about the animals. The owls were all common to the area, had been hit by a car and sustained injuries that would prevent them from living on their own in the wild.
Turlacher and Perry held the attention of the packed room when they had the owls out one at a time and discussed the size, color, habits and other details about the how they live.
The three owls included an eastern screech owl named Rufus, which is the smallest of the owls in Ohio; a barred owl named Ramsey with stripes on the chest and tail resembling bars on a cage, this owl also had huge black eyes; and a gray horned owl named Grimble who was the largest and strongest owl in the presentation.
Participants heard a number of facts about owls including: They can turn their heads 270 degrees in either direction; they have exceptional eyesight and hearing, the presenters said that all three of the owls could hear a person’s heartbeat; the bigger owls will eat smaller owls; the owls live alone in a territory and seldom remain with a family or a partner; they seem to get hit by cars a lot because they are so focused on catching their food they don’t see the car; one way they express distress is to open their mouths to breath; and they are all carnivores.
There were many questions from kids and adults. The presenters told the audience that the owls only weighed a couple of pounds and that most of their bulk is made up of feathers.
“Birds have to remain light weight to fly,” Perry said. “Birds will go to the bathroom about every 15 minutes to keep their weight down and that’s why you will often see your car covered.”
Perry told the people in the room to stay as quiet as they could at times because she and Turlacher were worried about stressing the owls. A couple of the owls were breathing through their mouths which is generally a sign the bird is stressed.
The owls seemed to enjoy being perched on either Perry’s or Turlacher’s arm and walked around the room. They all held their heads up and looked directly at their handlers and people in the room.
Visit https://starklibrary.org/home/locations/perry-sippo-branch/ for more programming and https://starkparks.com/ for more information about the Wildlife Conservation Center.