One of the great night experiences in the Ozarks is listening to — and talking to — owls, and there's no better time than late winter to make this happen.
Our woods come alive this time of year.
"It's either mating season or close to mating season," said Kim Banner, naturalist at the Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center in Joplin's Wildcat Park.
And that means owls are calling one another.
"You'll especially hear the great horned owl and the barred owl, and the barn owl, and you can even hear the screech owl," Banner said.
Over the next few weeks, there will be a number of owl prowls and events around the region, including one on Feb. 21 when staff from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield will bring live owls to the Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center.
"People absolutely have to register for that," Banner said. "It's going to be a popular event. Seating is going to be limited."
Put these owl events on your outdoor calendar (and remember, dress for the weather this time of year):
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Where: Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center, 483 Hatchery Road, Branson.
Details: The program will include an indoor presentation about owls followed by a short hike on a nearby trail.
To register or for information, call 417-334-4865.
When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: Springfield Conservation Nature Center, 4601 S. Nature Center Way, Springfield.
Details: Dickerson Park Zoo will bring live owls for a program, then participants head outside to listen for and call wild owls.
For information, call 417-888-4237.
Short-eared Owl Hike
When: 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8.
Where: Shawnee Trail Conservation Area on Southwest 50th Road in Barton County.
Details: Short-eared owls can be seen flying low over native grasslands in search of food this time of year.
To register and for directions and other information, call 417-629-3434.
Calling All Owls
When: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 14, and 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15.
Where: Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, 201 W. Riviera Drive, in Joplin's Wildcat Park.
Details: This is a program for children ages 3 to 6. Registration is not required. For information, call 417-629-3434.
Owls of Missouri with Dickerson Park Zoo
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21.
Where: Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, 201 W. Riviera Drive
Details: Dickerson Park Zoo will bring live owls to the conservation center, then participants head outside and try to call wild owls during a guided hike.
For information and to register, call 417-629-3434.
To register for any of these events, go to https://mdc.mo.gov/events-s3?combine=&field_event_activity_location_tid=&field_event_county_tid=All&field_rel_regions_tid=68.
Andy Ostmeyer is the editor of The Joplin Globe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.