State Park Programs Shed Light on Night Critters

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


Craig Hensley, Park Interpreter at Guadalupe River State Park (GRSP) is no stranger to the night. Originally from Iowa, Hensley found joy sitting on the roof of his apartment building watching the acrobatic Common Nighthawk and listening to other night critters whose calls drifted through the evenings. That’s part of what makes him the perfect guy to lead the park’s night programs.

Two of the GRSP night programs educate visitors on the cool critters cruising the Texas Hill Country night. Learn about which of the park’s nocturnal inhabitants are making all that noise. (Click on each critter’s highlighted link to get an earful of their contributions to the nighttime symphony.)

1. Whooo’s That Owl?


Barred Owl. Photo: Flickr/calypsoorchid

In Prowling for Owls, Hensley gives an informative presentation on the different types of owls that roam the Texas nights. Afterward, he leads visitors on a hike to a cliff along the Guadalupe River.

Gathering around the cliff edge, the visitors quiet as Hensley calls out something that sounds like “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” The group listens intently. After a moment, the Barred Owl returns the call.

The Barred Owl lives in woodlands and forests, even in suburban areas. His calls sound like he is forever asking the cosmos for a personal chef recommendation. Check out his vocal talents in the highlighted link above.


Eastern Screech Owl. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/zachwelty

Visitors at night might also hear the calls of the Eastern Screech Owl and the Great Horned Owl. Though the Western Screech Owl prefers the western part of the Hill Country, they’ve been known to visit Guadalupe River State Park too.


Common Nighthawk. Photo: courtesy of John Prentice

Owls share the skies with other birds of the night as well. The Common Nighthawk sports an intricately colored feather pattern that camouflages him so well he is nearly impossible to see during the day. Folks may catch the aerial show of the nighthawk before they actually hear one. During dawn and dusk, the nighthawk engages in kamikaze-style flight antics while hunting insects (or trying to impress a potential mate) opening his wings to reveal a bright white bar tattooed on each side.

Chuck-Will's-Widow 3
Chuck Will’s Widow. Photo: courtesy of John Prentice

Page 1 of 2:12