The Nature Friends program is for 4 or 5-year old children with an adult. The maximum group size is 20 child-adult teams. Programs are outside unless weather does not permit.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
“How is this night-time (nocturnal) bird different from a robin or sparrow?” Use owl mounts or pictures: discuss eyesight, talons (sharp claws), silent flight, and different calls. Teach teams the barred owl call, “Who cooks for you?”, “Who cooks for ya’ll!” Discuss where owls sleep.
Most owls like to live in holes in trees. Show whole owl pellets and one that is dissected. Talk about predators and prey. Define the terms and give examples.
Take group on hike. Ask parent/child teams to find owl homes. Call for owls. This works best at after dark, but can be done at sunset as well.
Make toilet paper tube binoculars. Take two toilet paper tubes. Punch a hole in each of the tubes. Tie one end of a 2 foot length of yarn to a tube. Tie the other end of the yarn to the other tube. Decorate them. These can be a strangle hazard if tubes are connected. Do not connect tubes or do not add strap to prevent this hazard.
Serve rice cakes with 2 round cracker placed in center as eyes. Cracker can be ‘pasted’ down with peanut butter, frosting, or cream cheese. Add slices of banana topped with a raisin on each round cracker. Add a Bugle for beak. Extra Bugles are great for pretend talons as well. The kids love it!
- Owls are nocturnal birds of prey.
- have silent flight
- are well camouflaged
- have talons to capture small mammals like a mice
- have large feather discs behind their eyes to help gather light for better night vision
- cannot turn their head in a full circle, but can turn 180 degrees
- have ears that are offset on their heads. This provides the ability to locate sound origins precisely through triangulation.
- Owl pellets are leftover fur, bones, etc. from the animals the owl ate.
- Show mounts or pictures of Iowa owls. Examples: great horned owl, screech owl, and barred owl.
Activities provided by:
Polk County Conservation Board
Nature Friends is funded by Polk County Conservation Board, West Des Moines Park and Recreation, and the Des Moines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.