Did you know?
• Eastern screech owls grow to only eight inches tall and have one of two colors, either a gray phase or a red phase
• Barred owls are the most common owls in Georgia and can be found in all 159 counties
• It is illegal to possess any part of an owl, unless with proper paperwork
• There are four types of owls that live year-round in the state: barred owls, eastern screech owls, great horned owls and barn owls
• Owls can bite or claw, so law enforcement should be contacted when dealing with injured owls
Fourth-grade students at Chattahoochee Elementary School were excited to meet three owls – two alive, one stuffed – on Monday.
The school hosted representatives from the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center in Mansfield and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for presentations, as the school accepted the stuffed barred owl to be used for studies at the school.
“We had a birds of prey presentation through the Charlie Everett Wildlife Center because we were being gifted another owl,” said science teacher Amber Hoke. “We have a screech owl up front and they just finished with this barred owl.”
Hoke said the presentation related to the students’ curriculum.
“Since fourth grade studies predators and prey, we asked fourth grade to come in for the presentation,” she said. “Fourth grade studies food webs and food chains, and we talk about Apex predators, we talk about animals that are native to Georgia and how that affects the food chains and what happens when certain things are missing from them.”
The barred owl was hit by car in White County and stuffed by taxidermist Kimberly Talley. The stuffed Eastern screech owl was hit in front of the school months ago.
“They have to have special paper attached to those birds in order for me to mount them, and it’s a very lengthy process,” Talley said. “That paperwork stays completely attached to that bird the whole entire time.
Sgt. Phillip Brown with DNR said keeping any part of an owl without a permit is against both state and federal laws and recommended calling authorities to deal with any injured owls.
“You can get hurt very bad trying to pick those up,” he said. “If you do pick one up, you can call DNR, you can call the sheriff’s office or the police department and they can get you in contact with who you need to for something like that.”
The room exploded when students had the opportunity to meet living versions of the owls, brought from the wildlife center.
The screeched owl, which grows only to a height of eight inches tall, was the first to go on display.
“It’s not a baby, even though it’s small. This is a full-grown, mature adult,” said James Murdock with the center. “This bird is a bird of prey. Of course, it’s going to eat much smaller things. If they’re a little baby, they’re probably eating insects and worms and things like that, but if they’re full grown adult, they are going after field mice and other little rodents that come out at night.”
Next was the larger and more common barred owl.
“This is one of Georgia’s most common birds of prey,” Murdock said. “Hawks have become the most common birds of prey. This is the most common owl in Georgia statewide. It lives in every single county in the state; it can live in the mountains, it can live in the marshes, down by the sea.”
Murdock told students how barred owls use not only their eyesight and hearing for hunting, but even their curved, downy feathers make the owl more silent while pursuing prey.
“If you compare the sound of a red tail hawk to the sound of a barred owl, it’s much, much different,” he said. “The red tail hawk has those really strong, flat feathers, but he’s hunting during the day … this [owl] is nocturnal, so part of his hunting technique is to be extremely quiet.”