Children question naturalists from the Chattahoochee Nature Center at the Autumn Owl Prowl. 

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area held its annual Autumn Owl Prowl Nov. 17, an opportunity to learn about local wildlife, see live birds of prey and visit the park at night. 

The Chattahoochee River Environmental Education Center in Johns Creek, part of the National Park Service, partnered with the Chattahoochee Nature Center, a nonprofit based in Rowell, to host this free event. 

On the upper deck of the Education Center lodge, there was a presentation of three live birds: a small screech owl, a large barred owl and a red-tailed hawk. The naturalist explained how each birds’ traits were adaptations to help them hunt and survive in the wild. 

Screech and barred owls, along with great horned and barn owls, are native to Georgia. National Park Ranger Jerry Hightower said the Owl Prowl was a great opportunity for people to learn about the bird they may hear at night in their own backyard, but rarely get to see. 

“It’s just a neat activity to get the community together, get them in the park and get them to use the park,” he said. “People don’t know they have a national park in their backyard.”

The presentation was followed by a night hike led by National Park rangers. The more than 100 attendees also enjoyed hot apple cider and s’mores around the campfire. Hightower said at night hikers pay more attention to the sounds and smells of the forest. 

“It’s a real short walk, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “The best thing is getting young people excited about being stewards of the environment, because they have to take care of everything after we’re gone.” 

The Chattahoochee River Environmental Education Center in Johns Creek is the only National Parks site in the area that offers night events in the winter. The next campfire night will be Saturday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m. To register, call 678-538-1200. There will be another Owl Prowl event in February.

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