NORTHEAST PA — Let’s take a walk in the nighttime woods. It will be a pretend walk, so even though it’s very dark and maybe past your bedtime, it’s OK. We won’t get …
NORTHEAST PA — Let’s take a walk in the nighttime woods. It will be a pretend walk, so even though it’s very dark and maybe past your bedtime, it’s OK. We won’t get lost. And you can wear your pajamas.
Stand still for a minute and close your eyes. What can you hear? The bubbling creek nearby. Your own breathing. How about the trees? Do they seem to be singing?
Right now their leaves and branches are full of katydids, calling each other’s name: “Katy-did! katy-did! katy-did!”
You might hear an owl calling from across the creek, trilling and whinnying like a horse. That’s a tiny screech owl with a warning: “Stay away from my nest!”
When you open your eyes, the woods won’t seem quite so dark, thanks to that sliver of moon in the sky. As you walk along the trail, take a deep breath. Maybe you can smell the woodsy smell of old leaves and pine needles under your feet.
Shhh! There’s a little movement up ahead. Looks like Momma Raccoon is taking her little ones out hunting for dinner. She is teaching them where to find nuts, berries, bugs, eggs, fish and just about anything else that will fit in their hungry little mouths.
In a few months, they’ll be able to make their way in the woods on their own.
Hmmm. Now there’s a smell in the air that tells you a skunk family just went by. That was a lucky miss!
There are plenty of other creatures out tonight, too. You can hear another kind of owl, a really big one, hooting across the creek. Great horned owls sound like they’re always asking, “Who? Who-who-whoooo?”
Red foxes, coyotes, possums, bobcats and many other creatures travel these woods in the nighttime, when most human girls and boys and grownups are sound asleep in their beds.
A pretend walk in the woods is fun—but a real walk is even more fun, and you can walk in woods like these any time you like.
That’s because land trusts such as the Pocono Heritage Land Trust protect natural places where birds, fish and animals live. They keep the creatures safe, keep our water safe, and give people beautiful places to walk.
Why not come visit in the daytime?
Whoooooo knows what you might see?
The Pocono Heritage Land Trust owns and manages nature preserves throughout Monroe County. There’s the Delaware Highlands Conservancy in Beach Lake. The Lacawac Sanctuary in Lake Ariel. And many more.
Listen to owls
You can hear what screech owls say to each other at www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Screech-Owl/.
How about hoot owls, aka great horned owls? They’re at www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/.
Learn more about Pennsylvania owls at www.pgc.pa.gov/Education/WildlifeNotesIndex/Documents/owls.pdf.
Join an owl study
The northern saw-whet owl is even smaller than a screech owl. It nests in the forests of Pennsylvania. Would you like to take part in outdoor research that studies these amazing little owls this October?
There’s no age limit. Adults must accompany their children.
Call PHLT for information at 570/424-1514 or email email@example.com.
The Pocono Heritage Land Trust
The Pocono Heritage Land Trust (PHLT) is dedicated to the conservation of important lands and waters—including open space, agricultural landscapes and natural areas in the Poconos.
The beauty and diversity of the Pocono landscape have drawn people to this region for well over a century. The long-term protection of precious natural areas depends in part on the actions of concerned private landowners. Preserving our natural legacy and ensuring that your land is protected in its natural state can bring many benefits. Perhaps the most gratifying is the knowledge that present and future generations will cherish the natural areas your actions made possible.
Our preserves have walking trails, creeks and wetlands that children of all ages and their grownups are welcome to explore. Find trail maps and learn more at phlt.org, or call 570/424-1514.
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