Volunteering in the Owlery for the annual School of Witchcraft and Wizardry event


Lively looking owl specimens demonstrate to kids a wide variety of species


Special adaptations of their wings, skull, and talons, make owls formidable predators

Several grad students in our lab helped run the owlery again this year at School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, an annual science outreach event run by Let’s Talk Science at the University of Alberta. We taught kids a variety of facts about owls including how they are adapted to their environment, how they hunt, and how they communicate.

The students got to listen to several different species calls recorded from the wild. We had a variety of owl specimens and new this year we brought in mammal specimens (a hare, mouse, vole, and a squirrel), to show the kids what kinds of prey owls will eat. The kids really seemed to enjoy it and so did we! It was great seeing their eyes light up as they learned about owls and listened to different owl calls, there was even one kid that did a great impression of the calls of four different owl species!


Participants listened to audio recordings of owl calls

Photos and text by Julia Shonfield

Field Fun Friday


Northern hawk owls are a species of owl that are active during the day (they are diurnal as opposed to nocturnal). They are distributed throughout the boreal forest across Canada, and are year-round residents. They usually inhabit coniferous or mixed-wood forests near open areas and are also frequently found in old burned forests. This pair of hawk owls was spotted in a patch of burned forest on the northern edge of the McClelland fen north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. They feed on small mammals such as mice and voles, but also some small birds. They nest in cavities or hollow broken tree tops. Judging by their behaviour towards us, there’s a good chance we were close to their nest, though we couldn’t see any obvious cavities.

Video taken by Darcy Doran-Myers
Post by Julia Shonfield