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Nighttime owl program set at Sanctuary

Night of the Owls will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

People who want to see some incredible owls in flight may want to go to Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary for Saw-whet Owl banding demonstrations on Saturday.

Starting at 7 p.m. Saturday, Mark Booth from TakeFlight will show live owls. There will be youth activities and a night nature walk. The event is free but people are asked to register online at indianaaudubon.org.

The Indiana Audubon Society, which owns Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary, is having four other owl banding stations at the same time to help people learn about the migration of our smallest owl, the Northern Saw-whet Owl. Along with the local sanctuary, programs will be at the Indiana Dunes station in Chesterton, the Purdue Martell Forest station in West Lafayette, the Ball State station in Muncie or the Yellowwood State Forest station outside of Nashville.

All participants should dress for the weather, as they may be outside at certain times, depending on location.

Amy Wilms, resident program coordinators said last year was their first year for the event.

“Last year we had 140 people attend, I don’t anticipate that many this year but hopefully we will have a large crowd. So far 50 have registered. We have a falconer coming that is going to bring live owls and he will do about a 45 minute to an hour program talking about animal conservation, their importance, and this way, every one will get to see an owl no matter what,” Wilms said. Those attending can participate in a night hike and try to call in some barn owls. This gives people a chance to be out in the dark and see what is alive at night. We have kids crafts and they will also be able to dissect owl pellets. In between programs, Carl and I will be doing a short presentation on Saw-whet owls, their habitat and their importance to the environment. We hope to catch an owl and be able to bring it in and show them our banding technique. Last year we caught three which was really exciting, but there is no guarantee. We put the nets up at dusk, we use a Saw-whet call with large speakers and try to have them fly into a net. We can show them the process on how we catch them but we hope to catch one.”

Wilms said if visitors want to go on a night hike, dress warm in layers.

They will also be having owl adoptions, where people can adopt an owl.

“If we catch your owl again we will contact them and let them know it was caught, it helps support our research.”

Wilms said if you can’t register online, you can still come just show up by 7 p.m.

To learn more about the Indiana Audubon Society and its programs, visit them online, www.indianaaudubon.org. For questions call 765-827-5109.