We’re settling into the mid-summer season, which means now’s the perfect time to get outside and explore the nocturnal world of owls. From now until early autumn, you can make the most of the owling season and learn more about the elusive birds of prey via firsthand experience.
To make the most of the season, you’ll need to learn what to do before heading out, when to go owling, and where to find owls. Here are three quick tips to help you learn the basics of owling.
1. How To Prepare for Owling
Before heading out on an owling hike, prepare yourself mentally and physically, so you make the most of your time and enjoy yourself. It’s best to bring a field bag with useful equipment, such as a flashlight, insect repellent, and hot drinks. While you should also bring extra batteries for your light source, you can skip that step and save space in your field bag by packing rechargeable flashlights.
Other than a light source, you’ll need gear that lets you see owls up close without getting close. Bring a pair of birding binoculars with wide lenses that capture the light. You may also view owls through a spotting scope.
Grab a field guide to see what owl species to look out for during your hike. Pay close attention to what the guide says about the owl’s size, markings, habitat, and other identifying information. Once you know which owls to look for, research their owl calls, so you know what to listen for and where to go to get a good view of the bird.
Like a great hike, owling can go longer than you plan. Stay alert and on your feet the entire time by taking a nap earlier in the day. Other than staying up long enough to see owls, it’s also important to get plenty of rest, so you aren’t stumbling your way along the trail.
2. When To Go Owling
Even though most owls are active at night, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until it’s fully dark to go owling. Snowy owls, burrowing owls, and short-eared owls are some owl species that are more active during the day. Rather than wait until nightfall, look for these birds at dusk or dawn.
Even though mid-summer to autumn is owling season, you may live in an area where it’s better to go owling during a different part of the year. If you’re an experienced birdwatcher, you may identify owl calls in the winter easily when the birds are claiming their territory and mating.
3. Where To Go Owling
Knowing when to go owling and how to prepare for owling is only half the adventure. The other half is knowing where to go owling. Owls may travel long ranges in search of prey, or they may stick to hunting grounds where prey’s plentiful. A little research can help you narrow your search and save time.
Contact your local birding organization or check sightings reports and online messaging lists to know which spots to check first. If you don’t have any luck with these sources, find out where owl prey like shrews, wood mice, and bank voles live. Chances are, you’ll find owls in these spots.
Wherever you go owling, pay close attention to your surroundings. You don’t want to wander onto private property or a restricted area. Before heading out to a park or preserve, check that it’s open when you plan to go owling.
Take advantage of the owling season in your area and experience Mother Nature in all her nocturnal glory.
Read More: Why You Should Go On a Family Hike