Arts, Dining & Entertainment, Featured

Give a hoot about owls at VINS’ annual festival

Courtesy VINS

Learn about types of owls and meet a few resident ones, at VINS during its variety of owl programs this month.

Saturday & Sunday, Feb. 23-24—QUECHEE— Join the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) at the VINS Nature Center on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m-4 p.m. for its annual Owl Festival to celebrate all things owls. Gather with live owls from all over the world, discover their life stories, create adorable crafts, and delight in delicious food.

Kick off either day with Owl Chats, and wind through the raptor enclosures, meeting VINS Educators and discovering the amazing abilities of owls. Enter the forest exhibit to participate in owl hunting activities and discover what life is like as an owl. Or, get a professional face painting by an ArtisTree artist.

Throughout both days, guests will also be able to meet Jessica Snyder from New England Falconry, as she shares a Eurasian Eagle owl and a barn owl. Or, speak with Mike Clough and other naturalists from the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum as they introduce guests to native owls as well as myths and legends of owls from around the world. Twice each day, visitors can join the Wilsons from Eyes on Owls for hooting lessons and an introduction to numerous native and international species of owls. In addition, VINS’ own Raptors up Close will take place several times throughout the day.

New this year, biologist Denver Holt, founder of the Owl Research Institute (ORI) in Montana, will speak about his 30 years of research with Snowy Owls amongst other owl species. Holt recently remarked, “Owls are natural ambassadors of conservation. They occur in every habitat and on all continents, except Antarctica. And they are a group the public really responds to. If we’re working to conserve grasslands, tundra, desert or forest – there is an owl species that lives there, relies on that habitat, and can help usher the message. Owls are conservation icons on a global scale, not just the Arctic.”

Food vendors include Griddle and Groovy, Quechee Pizza Chef, and Skinny Pancake.

Admission is $15.50 for adults, $14.50 for seniors 62 and over; $13.50 for youth ages 4 to 17; and free for children 3 and under per day. For more information, call 802-359-5000. EBT and Medicaid card(s) are accepted at $5 per person.

Advance ticket purchase is recommended for this event.

For more information or to get tickets, visit

Feb. 22 is also the deadline to sign up for the next VINS Owl Prowl, being held March 1.

Join a VINS educator to discover the life of the wild nocturnal residents while snowshoeing through the woods of the Nature Center. Afterwards, dine at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farms.

Card(s) must be present.

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