Tanya Wells, Kerry Wood Nature Centre special events co-ordinator, (left) and Medicine River Wildlife Centre executive director Carol Kelly are joined by Otis the Owl. Kerry Wood Nature Centre is hosting an Owl Prowl on Feb. 14. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff

Owl Prowl searches for lovelorn owls

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to listen for owl mating calls?

What better time than Valentine’s Day to look for amorous owls?

That’s exactly the thinking behind Kerry Wood Nature Centre’s upcoming Owl Prowl set for Feb. 14. The adult-focused event runs 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Allen Bungalow.

“The idea is that this time of year great horned owls are mating. They’re sending out their calls,” said Tanya Wells, Kerry Wood special events co-ordinator and self-confessed owl lover.

“Often times, while we can hear males vocalizing all year long, the females don’t really vocalize all that much until mating season comes.”

Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary has a few resident great horned owls, which are Alberta’s provincial bird. So, after about a 90-minute owl briefing with owl pellet dissection, registered Owl prowlers will head out in search of the elusive raptors.

“We do some of the physiology of owls because they have such spectacular adaptations,” she said. “It’s quite incredible once you start to realize how many incredible aspects to their physiology there are.”

For instance, owls have a third eyelid.

“It kind of acts like goggles so when they’re hunting nothing goes in their eyes and it protects them.”

Females also have a featherless spot on their bodies, a brood pouch, specially designed so they can keep their eggs warm.

After consuming many more fun facts, participants will head out into the sanctuary.

“We’re going to go for a walk and, hopefully, encourage some owls to vocalize for us.”

Those interested in signing up for the event can call Kerry Wood Nature Centre at 403-346-2010.

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