Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creatures of the Night - 2011

Every year for the past 4 or 5, we have been part of a family event, called Creatures of the Night. This event is hosted by Clark County Environmental Services, Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center, and our office. It is a fun, free event geared towards families. We typically get 30 to 50 people. This year - over 150 kids and parents showed up to participate and learn about these mysterious creatures. Wow!

We started off with the audience, mainly children telling bat jokes, from cards which we handed out. Interspersed with the jokes, some of the older kids and their parents told the audience some interesting bat facts. We then talked about other animals which come out at night, including raccoons, opposums, and beavers. A few short video clips were shown.

A very nice video was played highlighting bats. The audience loved it. Lots of giggles and comments about some of the bats. I have watched this video hundreds of times over, well maybe a bit of an exaggeration, and I still love it, not an exaggeration.

We then brought in a bird specialist to speak about owls. Last year she actually brought in a screech owl named Simon but she no longer has him. Even without the live bird though, her presentation was great and was followed with lots of questions and answers.

This presentation led into what is usually the best part of the evening: owl pellets. The excitement level grew in the room as we told the kids how to dissect their pellet and what to look for. Each child was given a pellet with a picture of a vole skeleton. I can't even begin to tell you how much the kids and parents alike loved this activity.

After everyone gathered their bones, fur, and bone chart into a plastic bag, we headed outdoors to look for bats or anything else which might be lurking. I had not expected many people to stay for the walk, it being a school night, so I was surprised when over 50 people followed me to the overlook. There were lots of questions and lots of wide-eyed children looking up into the sky for any signs of owls or bats. Even though I had my trusty bat detector, there were no bats spotted during the evening. At that point, most families headed back home, but not without giving us plenty of praise and thanks for this wonderful event.

And now I must give thanks to the local cub scout troop, the Tigers, who attended the event and offered us their help in cleaning and organizing the room we used. It would have taken us much longer if not for their much appreciated help.

Each time we hold this event, it gets better. With the amazing response we got this year, we may even consider holding more than one of these events in the future. Who knows?

To read more, here is a great article and pictures from the evening courtesy of the Columbian newspaper.

Submitted by Donna Allard

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