October 15, 1997 in Nation/World

Who Says There’s No Night Life Here? Turnbull Refuge Offers Kids Plenty To Do And Sometimes See

By The Spokesman-Review
 

By the light of a full moon, their calls rose from the hills.

“Hoo-hoo-hooo-hooo-hooo,” came the wild hoots from the lakes and hills of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge near Cheney.

“Ha, ha, ha,” came the giggles of 13 Spokane children after hearing themselves call for owls.

With ears tucked under hats and hands covered in toasty gloves, the children cupped their hands for hooting and braved the night Tuesday for a little exploration of life on the dark side.

The annual night hikes for children and families continue Thursday and Friday at the refuge. In their second year, the hikes give fourth- and fifth-graders, and an occasional mom and dad, a lesson in what animals do at night.

The hikes are sponsored by the Friends of Turnbull as part of National Wildlife Refuge Week.

First stop - Winslow Pool. First sight - their own gaping mouths as the children watched hundreds of ducks lift from the pond at sunset and fly south for the winter.

By then, the darkening sky was all but ignored as honking geese swooped in to inspect their nighttime visitors.

Like magic, 10-year-old Elizabeth Klein inherited the eyes of a bat via a blindfold. Eight-year-old Whitman Hough ran from her, flitting like a moth.

OK, bat, find the moth.

“This is going to take forever,” Elizabeth moaned. “I can’t see at all.”

Elizabeth got her first lesson in how bats find food. They hear it.

During a lesson on owls, a blindfolded Jeff Pearson, 10, learned he didn’t quite have the ears for a bird of prey. And 9-year-old Kennedy Anne Catton was just the girl to prove it to him.

OK, owl, test your ears and point to Kennedy Anne who is standing next to you talking. That worked.

OK, owl, point to her while she is squatting on the ground talking. Jeff pointed to where Kennedy Anne used to be standing.

Human ears just aren’t the precise locators that owl ears are, explained Turnbull guide Tuesday Serra. Owls use their ears to navigate, hunt and protect.

With that, it was time for a moment of silence.

As the moon peeked out from behind its veil of clouds, the motionless children got a rare treat - the song of howling coyotes.

“Wow!” the group erupted.

After a story or two and a little wandering along the trail, the nocturnal adventure ended with a sparkling finish and some ultra-fresh breath.

You see, Serra told the group, fire and heat aren’t the only source of light.

How about Lifesavers?

No way, thought most of the kids until they flipped Wint-O-Green candies into their mouths and started crunching.

“Holy cow, you can see sparks in her mouth,” Elizabeth said as she watched Kennedy Anne. “Can we have another one?”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHO TO CALL? For more information on Night Hikes, call 235-4723. Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is located at 26010 S. Smith Road.

This sidebar appeared with the story: WHO TO CALL? For more information on Night Hikes, call 235-4723. Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is located at 26010 S. Smith Road.


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