by Kaitlyn Blansett (Cope Environmental Center)
(10/2017) The sun sets, the air cools, and everything gets quiet. That sounds like the perfect time to head outdoors and check out the wonderful night life Wayne County has to offer!
Many animals are nocturnal, meaning they are awake at night instead of during the day. Native nocturnal critters include bats, raccoons, and owls. Observing night wildlife can be fun if done properly. Here is some basic information on a few native nocturnal animals!
Wayne County has a variety of bat species. One special bat that finds its home in here is the aptly named Indiana Bat. The Indiana Bat was first discovered in Wyandotte Cave in 1904. This species of bat feeds mostly on insects and spends its summers in the woods. However, they are hibernators. In the winter, the Indiana Bat hibernates in moist caves with temperatures that range from 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit (US Fish & Wildlife Services). As any Hoosier can image, these are difficult to find!
Most readers will already know what raccoons look like, in fact it is very possible that you have already seen one because they inhabit both natural and urban spaces. Raccoons are nocturnal as well, spending most of the day resting. At night, they become active and feed! That is why sometimes you might hear disturbances in your outdoor garbage can! In the wild, they feed on frogs, turtles, birds, crayfish, and small mammals, as well as corn and different woodland nuts (Indiana Department of Natural Resources). Your best chance to see these little critters will be after the sun sets and near one of their food sources!
Owls are always a real “hoot”! One particular owl you may find in this area is the Barred Owl. The Barred Owl is a large brown owl with yellow eyes and white stripes or bars across its chest. They feed on small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as insects. They are even known to eat other smaller owls. This has caused problems for some owl populations, including the Northern Spotted Ow. (US Fish & Wildlife Services). You can tell a Barred Owl by its call. When searching for a mate or defending its territory, the Barred Owl will call out “Who cooks for you? Who cook for you?” Disclaimer: owls do not cook their food. (Photo Credit: Stephen Weddle)
Now that you know a little more about native nocturnal critters, come on out and observe them! Cope Environmental Center is hosting a Fall Night Hike on Friday, October 20th, from 8-10pm. We will meet at our new nature center, then go meet some new night friends in the woods. I promised to tell you about the raging Wayne County night life, didn’t I? To register, check out copeenvironmental.org/upcoming-events-programs.
Karole Passmore is a freelance writer who enjoys writing articles and short stories, interviewing local people, and researching non-fiction subject matter– preferably historical. Graduate of RHS, Ivy Tech Richmond, and Earlham College– with a major in History, Karole has spent most of her life in Wayne County and enjoys the quaint atmosphere of a small town.
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