Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Feathered Friend at Darke County Parks

Great Horned Owls have fringed flight feathers which make
them able to fly completely silent.
Darke County Parks would like to recognize one of its most dedicated volunteers, Pam Siegel. Pam works for a few hours each day, Monday through Saturday, feeding Greta, the Great Horned Owl, cleaning her enclosure, and spending time reading or talking to her. Pam has been helping with Greta for three years and says she does it because she loves owls, and Greta connects her with everything she loves in nature. With Pam’s continued help socializing Greta, the owl is becoming more and more comfortable around people. In the future Pam would like to handle Greta on a glove at least once a week, to continue to build their mutual trust.

Greta began life in the wild and entered into captivity after being stuck by a truck. She spent some time in a wildlife rehab center before becoming an educational wildlife ambassador. Because she has significant vision issues and is missing a critical talon, she cannot be released back into the wild. It is only through state and federal permits that the park can keep her in captivity. The Darke County Park District obtained Greta in 2012 from Butler County MetroParks, and she is now thought to be twelve years old. In the wild the Great Horned Owls’ life span is about thirteen years, but they live to be twenty on average in captivity. The oldest recorded wild owl lived to be twenty-eight, and the oldest captive Great Horned Owl lived to thirty-five.

Great Horned Owls have fantastic eye sight and hearing which help them catch their prey. They can even hear a mouse in the grass from a football field away. Their eyes are also fixed in their heads. This means that they have to turn their heads in order to see in different directions, but they have 270 degrees of rotation and can move through that rotation at extreme speed. If human eyes were proportioned like a Great Horned Owl’s, they would be the size of softballs. This size makes them highly adept at nocturnal hunting and gives them great binocular vision.

Right now Greta works as a wildlife ambassador teaching children and adults alike about birds of prey, also known as raptors. She has spent time traveling to schools and other facilities, but the park staff hopes to soon have a new enclosure built that will have her much more open to the public. The new enclosure will let the public view Greta anytime the park office is open. In the meantime, park staff is hoping to host some open house visits to her current enclosure this fall. The Darke County Park District would like to thank Pam Siegel for all the time and effort she devotes to help Greta become the best animal ambassador she can be.

For any questions about Great Horned Owls or any programs offered by the Darke County Park District, please call the park office at (937) 548-0165 or email

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