Merriam-Webster defines owling it as “the act of smuggling wool or sheep out of England.” Since we’re not really into condoning smuggling, we’re going to suggest that you take the kids on a different (legal) sort of owling odyssey: an evening hike to see if you can catch a glimpse of the mysterious nighttime bird!

Winter is a particularly wonderful time to take the kids on a search for owls because most trees are without leaves, which makes it easier to see an owl’s silhouette. The tradition was beautifully chronicled in Jane Yolen’s Caldecott winning book, Owl MoonIf you’re planning to bundle up and go on searching for owls, we highly recommend you read this book beforehand! It is a gentle tone poem about a father taking his daughter (yes–it’s a girl!) out owling one cold wintry night is arguably — according to Yolen — her best book. 

Since the first full moon of 2022 is happening on Monday night, many area nature centers are hosting guided family-friendly opportunities for owling this weekend. Here’s where you can find them:

OWL PROWL
January 14 | 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Eden Mill Nature Center

Join Eden Mill Nature Center after dark to search the woods of Eden Mill for some of Maryland’s native owls and wildlife! Register in advance. MORE

OWL PROWL AND CAMPFIRE
January 14 | 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Marshy Point Nature Center

Meet Marshy Point’s resident owls and learn about nocturnal hunters’ adaptations. After the hike, enjoy s’mores by the campfire. Register in advance. MORE

WOLF MOON HIKE (AGES 5+)
January 14 | 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Lake Roland

Tradition and folklore dub January’s full moon the “Wolf Moon.” Join a ranger for a night hike in the moonlight. Register in advance. MORE

CREATURES OF THE NIGHT HIKE
January 14 | 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Cromwell Valley Park

From Owls to Opossums, learn about our amazing nocturnal animals and their adaptations they possess to roam the nighttime landscape. Register in advance. MORE

HOWL AT THE MOON
January 14 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Oregon Ridge Nature Center

Did you know that the moon is more than a picturesque orb in the night sky? It influences life on our planet in many ways. Join Oregon Ridge Nature Center for a night of lunar viewing, some story telling around the campfire and a howl or two at the coming wolf moon. Adults and children ages 6+. Register in advance. MORE

FULL WOLF MOON HIKE AND CAMPFIRE AT BANNEKER PARK (AGES 6+)
January 14 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum

Wolves roamed the woods in colonial Maryland and were especially hungry this time of year. Go for a short hike through the forest and then learn about this native predator around the campfire. Adults and children 6+. Registration is required. MORE

OWL PROWL (AGES 8+)
January 15 | 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Anita C. Leight Estuary Center

Venture into the woods of Bosely Conservancy on a cool winter evening to hear the call of these elusive creatures and possibly catch a glimpse of them. Participants meet at Bosely Conservancy. Registration required. Ages 8+. Under 16 with an adult. MORE

FULL MOON HIKE AND CAMPFIRE (AGES 8+)
January 16 | 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Anita C. Leight Estuary Center

Join Anita C. Leight Estuary Center for a nighttime adventure and explore the grounds of Leight Park to see what critters are doing after dark in the full moon. Ages 8+. Under 16 with adult. MORE

 

Extend the Edventure

Want to take your owling adventures to the next level? Here are a few activities to try with the kiddos!

SCIENCE EDVENTURE: Dissect An Owl Pellet

Because they are unable to digest the teeth, bones, and feathers of prey, owls regurgitate the remains in a single nugget. You can search for an owl pellet on your owling adventure, or you can order a kit online. Adventurous kiddos will love checking out what the owl had for dinner…

ENVIRONMENTAL EDVENTURE: Mimic Owl Calls

Head over to Audubon to learn about different owls, hear their calls, and then mimic them! 

ART EDVENTURE: Draw An Owl

Audubon for Kids has a great step-by-step bird drawing series with David Sibley. Here’s the video for how to draw a Screech Owl and the step-by-step instruction printable.