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For the Love of Owls

Cute owl craft!
From a very young age, my daughter has had a special love for Owls.  She is drawn to toy owls, stuffed animal owls, books about owls, owls on clothing, you name it!  She loves owls.  She even has a bike helmet with owls on it and an owl night light.  Maybe it’s because of their big eyes or their sweet round faces and fluffy feathers.  But most likely, it’s because of our neighborhood barred owl (Strix varia) family. 

One of our neighborhood owls likes to sit on the pine tree outside my daughter’s bedroom window in the late evening where it makes its well known call, “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.”  After a night of calls, my daughter wakes excited about the owl that visited her window.  One morning, when we were leaving early to go somewhere, we got a chance to see my daughter’s window visitor resting on another tree in our front yard.  (Barred owls are one of the few owls that may be seen during the day.)  That sighting and the occasional window visit have made owls an important animal in my daughter’s life.

For a few months now, the owls have been quiet in our neighborhood; but just last night, my daughter received a visit from one of them, hooting right outside her window.  And I’m guessing it’s just the first visit of many this month.  In December, barred owls (and great horned owls, Bubo virginianus) begin their courtship behaviors, meaning we can expect a lot of vocalizing.  And we are excited for our late night serenades from our neighborhood barred owls!

If you are lucky enough to hear either the barred owl or the great horned owl, you probably won’t hear the other species.  Great horned owls are predators of the barred owl, so if a barred owl hears a nearby great horned owl, the barred owl will seek another area to call home.  Once these owls move into a territory, they generally stay in that area for the rest of their lives.  And yes, they do mate for life.  So if you are lucky enough to hear a pair of owls in your neighborhood, they really are your neighborhood owls.  (They tend to live where there are large trees near fresh water.)  Get to know your neighborhood owls and enjoy them as my family does.

To help celebrate the season and to decorate our house, my daughter and I made pinecone owls.  They are a cute, decorative craft that you and your child can complete in an hour or two block of time for older children, or over a couple of days for preschoolers (after some prep work for you the night before).  Here’s what you’ll need:

·       6 – 12 pine cones

·       Cotton balls

·       Clothing dye in your choice of owl-color

·       Craft feathers to match owl-color

·       Googly eyes

·       Pipe cleaners for beaks

·       Glue

·       Toothpicks

I died cotton balls a tan to light brown color a day or two before so that they could dry thoroughly, bought some pinecones, and gathered my crafting supplies (craft glue, googly eyes, a tan pipe cleaner, toothpicks, and brown feathers).  We stretched out and pulled apart the cotton balls into small, fluffy tufts and then stuffed them between the pine cone scales.  Using a toothpick, we were able to stuff the pine cone full of cotton leaving only the tips of each cone scale visible.  This took some time and patience (something that can be difficult for young children), so we took a few days to do it.  Once her owl was stuffed, my daughter picked out eyes and feathers (for the wings).  I cut about an inch of pipe cleaner and bent it into a “V” shape (for the mouth) and helped my daughter glue all of the pieces on each owl (see photos).

Although it took a few days, we now have our very own family of pine cone owls to sit amongst our holiday decorations.  And they look nicer than the usual construction paper / paper plate crafts made in school.  With patience and time, this is a fun craft for preschool through elementary age children.  And it’s a great way to pay homage to the real owls in your neighborhood while encouraging the innate love of nature in your child!
Stuffing cotton in a pine cone.
Using a toothpick to stuff the pine cone.
Gluing the eyes.
Adding feathers.
Pine cone owl family.
Having a conversation with the new owls.  (The owl with the attached
string will be an ornament for our Christmas tree.)

This post first appeared on Service Unavailable, please read the originial post: here

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For the Love of Owls


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