Help name Grouse Mountain's newest owl ambassadors
Grouse Mountain has two new ambassadors, but they're not celebrity personalities or corporate spokespersons.
Instead, they're owls.
The two birds of prey – one a barred owl, the other a great-horned owl – are just over three months old and Grouse Mountain is asking the public to help name the raptors.
"We're looking for something that's clever, maybe a little funny as well but also that represents their personalities," said Devin Manky, wildfire manager at Grouse Mountain.
Manky added the barred owl is "quite small," while the great-horned owl is "quite chatty" and a "top-level predator."
To collect suggestions for the owls, Grouse Mountain is hosting a naming contest. Participants whose name is chosen could win a visit to Grouse Mountain's new owl discovery lunch experience.
Both owls were hatched in captivity and are part of Grouse Mountain's education programs. The owls are hand-raised from when they hatch and are frequently around people – unlike wild owls.
"They kind of think they're a little human on our arms, or maybe we're all owls. But either way we're all sort of part of their flock," Manky said.
According to Grouse Moutain, barred owls are a forest animal that sometimes will nest in parks and urban areas. They're not often shy around humans and their species has been expanding across North America over the last 100 years.
Great-horned owls are quite a bit larger and are native to the Grouse Mountain area. They tend to nest in forests or open farmlands.
Grouse Mountain has two other ambassadors, Cleo the barn owl and Blizzard the snowy owl.
Those interested in learning more about the birds can join an owl discovery lunch at the mountain or attend an owl interpretive session.
Manky said the owls are very popular and tend to get a lot of visitors who are eager to ask questions.
One common inquiry, he said, is about how an owl looks around.
"Most people want to know if they can turn their head 360 degrees," he said.
"But they can't quite do that. It's about 270 degrees and that's because their eyes are fixed in their heads. So if you could only look over your nose, you'd be turning your head around a lot as well."
Besides teaching visitors about owls up close, Grouse Mountain has tips for taking care of owls in the wild.
The best way, they say? Avoid using rodenticides or any poisons for mice or rats. Owls might eat the rodents and get sick.
As well, avoid chopping down old trees and instead opt for trimming branches when necessary.
"These guys love to nest in old trees," Manky said.