Did you know that the “ears” on a Great Horned Owl are not ears at all? They are tufts of feathers call “plumicorns.” These feather tufts help them blend in with their surroundings.
The Owl’s ears are actually on the sides of their heads behind and slightly below the eyes. One ear is higher, and one is lower to aid in locating prey at night. It’s a complicated system, but basically they hear noise a fraction of a second faster in one ear than the other. This helps them better locate their prey in the dark.
Speaking of eyes, did you know that Owls cannot move their eyes? Instead, some Owls can rotate their head as much as 270 degrees to allow it to see in all directions. However, a Great Horned Owl will rarely rotate more than 180 degrees. Their eyes are not “eyeballs” like a human’s eyes, but tube-shaped eyes that give them binocular vision. They are farsighted–they cannot see close-up objects clearly.
Great Horned Owls usually find a nest that was built by another species. They sometimes line the nest with bark, leaves and even their own feathers. They will also nest in tree cavities, deserted buildings, and sometimes even the ground. They have one brood a season with 1-4 eggs laid. The babies are born helpless as little clumps of white, fluffy feathers.
There is so much to see outside! Not only is being outside and away from the screens a good break, but it’s educational, too!
A walk in a park is refreshing, and such a great opportunity for kids to learn about birds and other creatures, as well as plant life and the circle of life. Watching raptors fishing in the lake is exciting, and it also gives kids an opportunity to learn about how animals survive in the wild. Eagles often tussle with each other as they try to take away fish that someone else caught. Sometimes it works, and sometimes another Eagle swoops in and takes the fish while the first ones continue to tussle. Kids have a great time watching the antics. And they also learn a lot about animal behavior.
Being outside opens up all kinds of new ways for kids to develop new skills. Birding is fun. Learning to identify the different kids of birds is not only educational, it’s a really great way for kids to begin to look forward to getting outside and finding birds they haven’t seen before. Friends of Barr Lake and Barr Lake State Park host a Birders Club for kids ages 6-15, an exciting way for kids to start building their lifetime bird list! And they can start by checking off bird on the Barr Lake State Park Bird Checklist.
Another skill is photography. Taking and sharing photos of wildlife helps kids relive their experiences and tell other kids about how much fun it is to be outside. Getting that great picture is much more rewarding than playing video games. The photo below was taken by a 7-year-old junior volunteer at Barr Lake. They just have to be at the right place at the right time.
Next time you are sitting at home, watching TV or playing a video game, think about putting away the screens and taking a walk on the wild side!
Colorado Parks & Wildlife has released a new educational video called “Livin’ the Wildlife – Bald Eagles” that was filmed at Barr Lake State Park. This is the incredible success story of a beautiful raptor that was placed on the endangered species list in 1978 and removed from that list in 2007.
Helping to protect these beautiful birds is just one part of why Friends of Barr Lake works so hard to educate the public about the natural world while helping to maintain the park to ensure a safe and exciting for visitors.
Yes, it’s the 7th Annual Raptor Run 5K. If you want to join in the fun, you can run, walk, hop, or crawl to the finish line.
This race is a certified 5K course that winds through the beauty of Barr Lake State Park. For details, check out our flyer.