Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 29, 2013

Moonlight owl hike, Wings of Wonder combo is a sellout

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Walk capped at 60 hikers before Dec. 17 full moon

TRAVERSE CITY — No matter what happens on the Full Moon Owl Hike at the Boardman River Nature Center next month, participants will see owls.

And owls, if they’re looking, will see 60 hikers.

The Grand Traverse Conservation District set up a waiting list Tuesday morning after more than 60 people registered online for the Dec. 17 nature program, just a week after press releases went out.

“It’s the first time we’ve combined Wings of Wonder with a hiking event,” said John Gessner, communications coordinator for the Grand Traverse Conservation District . “Walking through the woods with only moonlight and hearing coyotes howling is an incredible and totally different way to see the natural world.”

Enrollment is capped at 60 to ensure a fun, engaging experience for all participants, he said. About 35 people already have paid the $10 admission for adults and $5 fee for kids under 12.

“We have created a wait list as we collect payment from everyone who has registered online because some folks change their mind after registering, and we want to make sure we offer the event to as many interested people as possible,” Gessner said. “There is a slight chance we’ll be able to accommodate more people, but I can’t guarantee that right now.”

The 6-8 p.m. event at the Boardman River Nature Center will begin with an owl education program by Rebecca Lessard, Wings of Wonder founder, educator and raptor rehabilitator. She said she probably will bring at least three “ambassador” owls — a great horned, screech and saw whet, respectively named Eoin, Gilda and Ned.

“We’ll focus on nighttime sounds, the hearing of the owls and how they hunt,” she said.

Wings of Wonder has a total of 11 owls of varying species that Lessard uses in about 150 education programs she conducts annually across the region and state. She founded Wings of Wonder in 1990. Ambassadors are birds that have healed from the injuries that brought them to Wings of Wonder for rehab but couldn’t survive in the wild if released.

Lessard has rehabilitation permits from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She also is permitted to possess non-releasable raptors for use in educational programs.

The hour-long hike led by staff and partnering community organizations will follow her talk. Hikers should dress warm in layers with hats and gloves and bring snowshoes if there is snow on the ground, Gessner said.

The nature center is located at 1450 Cass Road about 1.5 miles south of South Airport Road. Call 231-941-0960 for more information or to join the waiting list.