About 20 children were hooting when they left Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. The Refuge Rocks monthly program was all about owls and the ones that can be seen in Texoma.
The children heard a presentation about the nocturnal flyers and then did a hands-on craft and game.
“I read them a story about owls,” Bluestem Master Naturalist Evelyn Bryant said. “They sat on the floor and heard about owl mothers and babies. They did not realize that owls eat animals whole, but they cannot digest them so they regurgitate the left over parts and make owl pellets.”
Children in the 4-7 age group colored owls while children in the 8-12 age group got to dissect owl pellets to find bones and other materials.
“The kids were so fascinated by that,” Bryant said. “Also, owls eat just about everything and almost all small animals. The children did not know that owls ate so many things.”
The children also learned about the different sounds that owls make and how to identify owl species based upon the noise they make.
“The children can see and hear them in their everyday lives,” Bryant said. “We heard about a lot of owl cries. I do not recognize all of them, but they are all over this area. You do not hear a lot of screech owls, but you definitely hear a lot of hoot owls.”
Melanie Schuth’s two children participated in the younger class.
“This is the first time we have come to a program at Hagerman,” she said. “We have come out here before just to go hiking. We just want to get the kids outside more today. Ever since they have gotten here, they have been excited.”
On the ride into the refuge, Schuth said her children were trying to identify animal shapes.
“I think that when they go home, they are going to be looking for the types of owls that they heard about here today,” she said. “They are going to want to go out to our uncle’s farm and see if they can find some barn owls.”
Schuth said she wants to bring her children to Hagerman more because she wants them to understand the natural world around them.
“We try to bring our children to the program at Hagerman pretty often,” Kent Landreth said. “We try to come up here whenever we can. My son has really been excited about attending the owl program. He really liked the armadillo and squirrel programs.”
The Landreths drove from the McKinney/Prosper area to attend Saturday’s program.
“A lot of kids end up playing inside and even if they are outside, most children are in town and do not make it into nature to see the animals,” Landreth said. “They do not get to have that interaction and learning experience with their neighborhoods. It’s nice to get out and see the country and learn about it.”
Landreth grew up in Sherman and Denison and he believes that the preservation of nature should be important to younger generations.
“I grew up in Sherman and Denison,” he said. “I know all about driving out on these roads. It just seems like there are more roads getting paved. Areas like Hagerman are great. The more people that are educated about Hagerman and know the importance of the possibility of having more areas like this is important.”
Amy Landreth said that children should be excited about having natural areas to learn about animals.
“If children grow up respecting it, they are the ones that will have the money in the future to keep it,” she said.