Whoooo Wants to Meet Me?

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The newest addition to our Great Parks’ animal ambassador team is an eastern screech owl (Megascops asio). As such a new member to our team, she doesn’t have a name yet. However, this particular owl has an injury to the retina in her left eye, rendering her blind, and thereby not able to survive in the wild. It is our privilege and humble opportunity to be able to provide care to multiple hawks, owls and even vultures in several park locations. All of these birds of prey are unable to be released back into nature.

Eastern screech owlIn order to possess a raptor, an agency must secure a permit through the federal government through an application process. Permission to possess these birds in captivity is only granted if the specific individual cannot survive in its natural habitat because of illness or injury. These majestic animals have the honorable role of serving as ambassadors for others of their kind.

Trained Great Parks staff take great pride in working with these birds of prey during presentations. These skilled interpreters weave interactive yarns of mystery, survival and pure grit about each species, while handling them on the glove.

We estimate that this owl is about two years old. If an eastern screech owl survives their first two “learning years”, their life expectancy is closer to 10 years. In some cases, captivity allows them to live even a few years longer.

Although all of our owls, hawks and vultures will live out their lives being cared for by Great Parks’ staff and volunteers, there is a silver lining. The “up close and personal” impact made by the programming highlighting such grand animals is endless. Countless guests of all ages have been amazed and in awe of these birds, leaving the park with a greater understanding, appreciation and even passion for raptors and all wildlife.

Raptor programs are scheduled throughout the year. To find out about our interpretive programs, or if you want to find out the hours for Seasongood Nature Center, where this little eastern screech owl is housed, please visit the Woodland Mound homepage for Seasongood Nature Center’s hours, or check Great Parks’ Calendar of Events for all nature programs. Seasongood Nature Center’s owl enclosure is unique to Great Parks of Hamilton County, in that it is open to the public during posted hours.

Amy Swigart
Nature Interpreter, Woodland Mound