The county forest preserves around here host some really great programs. We’ve attended a few with our home county, Lake County Forest Preserve District, and we’re not too far from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to take advantage of the programs they offer (like the Woodcock Walk last April). On December 12th we attended an Owl Walk at Glacial Park forest preserve hosted by McHenry County Conservation District. During the first part of the evening, our group of about 15 participants walked a trail in the preserve, through snow-covered prairie to snow-covered woods. There we made several stops to listen for the likely suspects: Great Horned Owls and Eastern Screech-Owls. Late in the hike we were able to hear a Screech calling when the ranger played the call on her iPod.
After the walk, the program wasn’t over. First we viewed a slide show about the owls of McHenry County (Barred, Short-eared, Long-eared and Barn are also possible county birds).
The presentation continued with a naturalist speaking about owls in general and showing us or handing around things like owl skulls, feathers, and even a little display of a dissected owl pellet. Finally two education owls were presented: a Short-eared and a Barred (yay, my favorite). This was a really fun program geared towards adults and we enjoyed it very much. I wasn’t even expecting the indoor portion of the program as the last “owl prowl” we attended was strictly an outdoor affair. Plus it’s always a treat to see education birds up close. I’m sure we’ll attend more McHenry programs in the future.