Swooping silently just above the intersection of Wadsworth Blvd. and Waterton Rd, a Great-Horned Owl, the largest owl in Colorado, nearly misses a large white SUV before elegantly landing atop a sprawling Plains Cottonwood tree. Mishaps with vehicles happen often, resulting in broken wings, ruptured eyes, and other injuries. Many of these magnificent birds are not fortunate enough to fully recover at a rehabilitation center, and instead become animal ambassadors, allowing us to witness first hand an up-close encounter with the striking eyes of these nocturnal hunters. So whooo cares about owls anyway? As it turns out, quite a number of people in fact. “When I engage with community members throughout Denver at various special events and programs, they often say “I gotta tell you my owl story!’,” shares Kate Hogan, Community Outreach Coordinator for Denver Audubon.
The mission of Denver Audubon, a local bird and wildlife education nonprofit, is to advocate for the environment, connecting people with nature through education, conservation, and research. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, the organization has been inspiring community members to cherish our local ecosystems and the creatures within them for 5 decades. Their Audubon Nature Center is located at the South end of Chatfield State Park, often overlooked by cars whizzing by on their way to Waterton Canyon, Roxborough State Park, or the nearby Lockheed Martin Campus.
But every September, the Nature Center draws hundreds of visitors for the only Owl & Music Festival in Colorado, affectionately known as the “HOOTenanny”. The 2019 festival has been extended to a 5-day event, beginning on Tuesday September 17, with a variety of events and nocturnal wildlife hikes throughout the week leading up to the main event on Saturday September 21, 2019 from 10 am – 2 pm.
Karl Brummert, Executive Director, hopes that “close, personal encounters with owls will inspire our community to learn more and take action to help protect the owls of Colorado. Our HOOTenanny festival provides the unique opportunity to admire these amazing, mostly nocturnal creatures in the Lois Webster outdoor amphitheater with live owl encounters from our partner nonprofit, Nature’s Educators. Lois Webster, a founding member of Denver Audubon, is a legend in Colorado for her dedication to the environment and her passion for teaching.”
This fall season, Denver Audubon invites you and your family to investigate and celebrate owls, the stealthy, nocturnal, avian hunters (a.k.a. ninjas of the night!) that share our neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces. The main HOOTenanny event, held on Saturday September 21, is designed with all ages in mind. Local folk music performed by acoustic rock band Nearly There will surround the outdoor venue while partnering organizations such as Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and Colorado Parks & Wildlife share educational owl activities. Take home a hoot of a craft or sport your owl spirit with custom face painting, or show your artistic side and come dressed as your favorite Colorado owl for a chance to win prize giveaways! Check out the adorable owl hats, earrings, stuffed animals, vintage bird prints, and other merchandise in the nature center gift shop. Delicious local eats will be available for purchase from the Migration Taco food truck, and Woodsy the Owl from the U.S. Forest Service will be available for photo opportunities.
The festival takes place at the Audubon Nature Center at Chatfield located at 11280 Waterton Rd. Littleton. Smaller workshops will sell out and advanced registration is requested by visiting www.denveraudubon.org or by calling 303-973-9530. Proceeds from this festival support our educational programs and activities at the Audubon Center at Chatfield.
About Denver Audubon
Founded in 1969, Denver Audubon is a local nonprofit organization, specializing in birding field trips for the Metro-community, wildlife education and local conservation efforts. Denver Audubon is dedicated to connecting people with nature through education, conservation and research. For more information, call 303.973.9530 or visit www.denveraudubon.org.
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