Nighttime Owl Prowl Introduces Visitors and Locals to Distinctive Calls

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Public domain image – Eastern screech owls like the one above are commonly sighted at the Owl Prowl.

By Stefanie Jackson – Locals and visitors who want the chance to hear and see owls in their natural habitat are invited to join the next Owl Prowl at the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve, hosted by retired Kiptopeke State Park Ranger, Bill Dyas.

If owl prowlers are lucky, they just might hear, “Who cooks for you, who cooks for y’all?” – the phrase evoked by the call of the barred owl, one of four species native to the area, Dyas said.

Owl prowlers meet near the entrance to the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve and walk down the boardwalk, stopping at the beach.

While enjoying the Cape Charles sunset, owl prowlers are briefed on the owls they might see, owl calls, and Owl Prowl etiquette.

Of the four species native to the area, two are tufted owls (the Eastern screech owl and the great horned owl), and two are non-tufted (the barn owl and the barred owl).

The Eastern screech owl is most likely to be seen at the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve, and the most recent Owl Prowl on Aug. 9 was no exception.

Eastern screech owls are typically seen at heights of 20 feet or below. They can be recognized by their call, either a trill or a whinny.

Dyas tracks the owls by mimicking their calls and following their voices when they answer. He occasionally uses pre-recorded owl calls. Dyas demonstrates the responsible methods by which owl enthusiasts can call the nighttime fowls to their own backyards.

Owl prowlers planning to bring young children along for the experience should note the Owl Prowl is in the dark, with limited flashlight use.

The next Owl Prowl is Friday, Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve, 301 Patrick Henry Avenue, Cape Charles.

Photo by Stefanie Jackson – Owl prowlers enjoy the sunset at the end of the boardwalk at the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve as retired park ranger Bill Dyas teaches them everything they need to know about owls before their nighttime search.