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A hoot at Lone Star

Published 12:44am Sunday, February 2, 2014

An owl event at Lone Star Lakes later this month is part of a push by the city to teach residents about the surrounding natural environment and encourage usage of parks, according to Suffolk’s outdoor recreation specialist.

“Pavo” the barred owl, of the Virginia Aquarium, will be the guest of honor at a city of Suffolk event at Lone Star Lakes later this month all about owls. (Submitted photo)
“Pavo” the barred owl, of the Virginia Aquarium, will be the guest of honor at a city of Suffolk event at Lone Star Lakes later this month all about owls. (Submitted photo)

Suzette Vida said she joined the city in the new position in November. “My job is to come up with new outdoor programs for our parks,” she said.

So far, Vida has organized a Pet Detectives event at Sleepy Hole Park on Jan. 25, which included teaching kids how plants and animals survive the seasons, and the upcoming “HOOTenanny” owl event is set for Feb. 25, with the city already taking registrations.

The idea, Vida, is to “get children and families educated about conservation and nature. We will be having some other programs, like gardening, and just a broad range of things so people will be getting outside and just using our parks and being out there.”

The owl program, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the park lodge, 1001 Pembroke Lane, is described as a fun-filled evening teaching participants how to make a backyard owl habitat and perform an owl call.

The highlight will be a visit from a live owl from the Virginia Aquarium. Handler Justin Fuller will bring “Pavo” the barred owl, Vida said.

Eastern screech owls are most common in Suffolk, she said, with barred owls also present. Then there are also barn owls, but not as many as the other two.

Vida predicted folks will be surprised by the owl call. It’s not a “hoot-hoot,” she said, but rather more of a cooing sound.

“It’s very soft, almost dove-like,” she said.

The hope is that a male owl or two will respond to the calls, Vida said, just to say, “This is my territory.”

Vida said owls are among the types of wildlife living in Suffolk that humans seldom come into contact with.

“Owls are just such an interesting animal, and people tend to be really interested in owls but rarely see them,” she said.

Creating an owl habitat in one’s backyard is a way to bring the animals closer, Vida said, adding that encroachment of human development into their natural environment is a continuing problem.

“If you build a box and mount it, it gives them that habitat back,” she said. “They may or may not use it, but it puts it back out there.

“It’s a thing you can do to give a little bit back that’s been taken away.”

The owl program welcomes adults and children of all ages, and registrations are open through Feb. 21. Vida said Friday about 15 of 30 places remain. Call her at 514-7262.

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