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Houston, we have owlets!


Thu, Mar 21st, 2013
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

By Karla Bloem

A white, fuzzy, wobbly head reaches upwards through a fluffy curtain of feathers to be met by a tiny bit of a pocket gopher, gently rubbed against its beak. Iris, the tiny owlet’s mother, utters quiet chitters of encouragement to the day-old owlet as it grabs the tidbit and swallows, eyes still tightly shut.

Iris the Great Horned Owl can’t see out of her right eye due to a puncture to her eye that occurred around 2006. Rusty, her mate, is also blind in his right eye after being hit by a car around 2007. Their lack of binocular vision prevents them from being able to hunt well enough to live in the wild, so they live in captivity in rural Houston, Minnesota as part of a vocal study on their species being conducted by Karla Bloem.

Bloem is the Director/Naturalist of the Houston Nature Center, Coordinator of the International Festival of Owls, and the new Executive Director of the up-and-coming International Owl Center. She has been studying Great Horned Owl vocalizations since 2004, thanks to her education owl Alice and the wild owls that frequent her yard.

Rusty and Iris are giving a new level of insight into Great Horned Owl behavior and vocalizations not otherwise possible with wild owls. They live in a large breeding and release training complex that is 96 feet long and outfitted with six security cameras and microphones. This allows Bloem to watch Rusty, Iris, and owlets without them knowing they are being watched. It also allows anyone in the world with an internet connection to view them too.

Bloem hopes that viewers will not only enjoy watching the owls raise their young and learn something along the way, but that viewers will submit observations of interesting behaviors and vocalizations to help her with her study.

Owlet number one hatched on March 15 with owlet number two due Monday, March 18 and number three expected Thursday, March 21. The eggs were laid on February 10, 13, and 16 and require 33 days of incubation before hatching.

The owlets will eventually be given names and leg bands. Once they have developed their full territorial hoots they will be released to the wild.

You can watch the live video feeds at www.internationalowlcenter.org: click on “Rusty and Iris Cam” on the left. You can find video and photo highlights on the blog at [Read the Rest]

Snakes, Reptiles & Amphibians! Documentary Film will feature southeast Minnesota as one of five international field locations.

Thu, Mar 14th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro The Great Outdoors

Lanesboro, Minn. – Snakes! Reptiles & Amphibians! Don’t miss the opportunity to see these on the big screen in the documentary film “Herpers III: Tales from the Field” which features southeast Minnesota as one of five international field lo ..... 
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Holy Carp! and ZRP Water Ways Speaker series discuss Aquatic Invasive Species

Fri, Feb 22nd, 2013
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

Two Rochester events, Holy Carp! and ZRP Water Ways Speaker series bring national invasive species expert Dr. Peter Sorensen to discuss Aquatic Invasive Species in March. Aquatic invasive species, carp, zebra mussels, milfoil and a host of others ..... 
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Houston, Minn., Owl Festival Winners span four continents

Fri, Feb 15th, 2013
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

Wildlife species know no borders, and this year’s award winners at the 11th Annual International Festival of Owls in Houston, Minn. reflect that global outlook. The top award winner in the World Owl Hall of Fame – the Champion of Owls -- is a ..... 
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Lost Creek Hiking Trail is fun AND educational

Fri, Jan 18th, 2013
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

Rick Grooters, Conservation Specialist The Lost Creek Hiking Trail was founded by a group of concerned people from Chatfield who wanted to give local citizens an opportunity to hike on a natural trail and learn about our environment. The group lat ..... 
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Rush Creek Trail dedicated in Rushford

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Sep 28th, 2012
Posted in Rushford The Great Outdoors

After more than two years of planning and development, and countless hurdles, the first phase of the Rush Creek Trail project in Rushford is in its last steps to completion. The extension, which ties into the Root River Trail, runs north from the st ..... 
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Lanesboro Gun Club hosts youth Fun Shoot day

Fri, Sep 7th, 2012
Posted in Lanesboro The Great Outdoors

On a recent stroll down memory lane, Norrin Storelee and Dave Campbell recalled the early days of the Lanesboro Gun Club. Norrin recalls one Halloween when some folks were out at the gun club goofing around and some outhouses got knocked over. Not t ..... 
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Local bear hunter tags possible record holder

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Aug 31st, 2012
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

When you think bear hunting, you may get the image of a burly, north woodsman holding a large rifle while stalking a massive beast. You may be surprised then to meet Jennifer Nolte, of Chatfield. The small-framed mother of three young children is ha ..... 
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Free wagon rides along the Lanesboro-Whalen State Trail

Fri, Aug 24th, 2012
Posted in Whalan The Great Outdoors

The Annual Wagon Ride along the Root River is scheduled for Wednesday, September 5, 2012, beginning at the Sylvan Park in Lanesboro. Tractor pulled wagons will carry participants from the Sylvan Park in Lanesboro then travel to Whalen and back to ..... 
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