Owl Quest

Saturday, May 8, 2021 from 2:00pm to 3:15pm


Ready to see and hear some be-hoot-iful creatures, and learn all about how to spot them? Then this is the program for you.

Join wildlife photojournalist and author Mark Wilson and teacher-naturalist Marcia Wilson as they scramble to meet a publisher's deadline to produce photos and observations of all 19 species of owls that breed on the continent, north of Mexico. Mark's first book, Owling: Enter the Mysterious World of the birds of the Night, was published in 2019. With more than 250 photos, this 120-page hardcover book was the culmination of a long simmering dream of his to produce a science-based kid's book about all 19 species of owls that breed in North America.

With a fast-paced slide show, viewers accompany the Wilsons on multiple forays afield to gather the ingredients for his award-winning book. Snowy Owls nesting on Alaska's North Slope, Great Gray Owls plunge diving in Minnesota powder in sub-zero temperatures, and Burrowing Owl families slow cooking during 120-degree days during an Arizona summer come in for full color treatment in front of Wilson's cameras.

See how the Wilsons repeatedly come up dry in their searches for the tiny, elusive Flammulated Owl. Experience the excitement of seeing a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl fly from its nest cavity in a saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert. Watch a male Snowy Owl bring a plump lemming to the nest where he hands it off to the female who will feed it to hungry and very fuzzy owl chicks.

Mark will discuss why flash photography for owls is often not the best choice for quality photos and the welfare of the owl. He will talk cameras and lenses and explain why your phone's camera isn't ideal for capturing quality owl photos (but he'll share a tip of how to use your phone for close-up photos of a distant owl without disturbing it). How close can one ethically approach an owl? What are the signs that your presence is stressing an owl? Should you post your owl sighting on ebird or social media?

In short, viewers will be treated to a whirlwind tour of the continent's most fascinating, enigmatic, and often difficult-to-find birds. Come shiver with the Wilsons in the arctic and sweat with them in the desert as they search for owls.

After the slide show, Marcia will introduce the audience to six live owls that viewers could find in New England. The live owl line-up will include the too cute Northern Saw-whet Owl and the striking Snowy Owl. Marcia will lead viewers in a hooting lesson sure to combat cabin fever.

Based in New England, the Wilsons have been giving live owl programs for 27 years and have spoken to more than half a million people. They live with and care for 15 non-releasable raptors which at the moment includes 13 owls. Both Mark and Marcia have BS degrees in biology and have worked in the conservation field for decades.

You may purchase copies of Mark's book, Owling, signed and personalized by the author, by emailing eyesonowls@earthlink.net. Books are available for $18.95 + tax and $5.00 shipping.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science chose Owling as 2020's Best Science Book for Middle Grade Students. But don't let the middle grade thing fool you- Owling will appeal to kids of ages 3 to 103.

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