Nature Canada

Spotting nocturnal creatures

Not all creatures are ones that you can spot during the day. In fact, there are many species you can find at night that are just as fascinating!

If you interested in going on, or organizing your own, night nature walk we offer the following tips to improve this experience:

Dress Warmly
Often times you’ll be standing still listening for creature noises or stopping to examine an animal you’ve come across. Don’t underestimate the drop in temperature during the night.

Image of a Boreal Owl

Bring Flashlights, but use them sparingly
Flashlights will not harm nocturnal creatures, but they will scare them off. It’s often best to let your eyes adjust to the natural light reflected by the moon than it is to use battery powered lights.

Bring a recorded owl call
Recorded owl calls are a great way to induce a barn or screech owl to return a call, but use them sparingly as owls will assume a potential rival is infringing on their territory and you don’t want to disturb them too much! Also remember to start with the calls of the smallest owl first (such as a Saw-whet Owl) and work your way up to the larger owls (such as a Great Grey Owl) as even small owls will be intimated by the presumed presence of the large owls and will fall silent.

Be as quiet as you can
In the dark, listening to creatures can be as important (and rewarding) as seeing them with your eyes. Naturalists are just as happy to hear an owl as they are to see one. However, you do stand a greater chance of seeing animals if you’re not making a lot of noise.

Have people look in different directions
Organize your group so that your eyes cover as much of the surrounding area as possible. A sighting is a sighting whether it’s done by you or someone else!

Know the trails before heading out
The last thing you want is to be lost out on the trails in the middle of night. Make sure you have prior knowledge of the pathways and always know how to get back to the entrance. Bring a map, if possible, and ensure you have some a cellphone in case of an emergency.

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