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Highland Wonders ~ Upcoming

Highland Wonders is a monthly education series featuring the natural history of the Okanogan Highlands and surrounding areas. Come and meet some new people and enjoy refreshments; leave with a better understanding of your watershed.

The indoor series runs on the First Friday of the month, from November through May (skipping December). The outdoor series is offered during summer, and the schedule varies.

Great Gray Owls
Friday, November 7, 2014
at the Community Cultural Center of Tonasket

~ with Wildlife Biologist, Matt Marsh ~

Not only are Great Gray Owls the largest owl in North America with the largest wingspan, their stature and countenance spark a sense of wonder. With alternate names such as "Great Grey Ghost," and "Phantom of the North," they inspire awe and pique our curiosity. Come to Highland Wonders on Friday, November 7th to learn how these amazing owls survive in the Okanogan Highlands. From unique adaptations for locating prey, to behaviors for defending their nests, to strategies for successful breeding, these masters of silent flight are sure to capture your interest.  

Matt Marsh is a Wildlife Biologist with the Tonasket Ranger District. He is responsible for managing the National Forest lands in the Okanogan Highlands for a variety of species, which includes the Great Gray Owl.  Every year the Forest Service surveys for Great Gray Owls around restoration projects to see where they are nesting and foraging. Managing the owl’s very specific habitat is important because the Okanogan Highlands has one of the largest populations in Washington State. The Highlands area provides the unique habitat of forest cover, intermixed with open meadows, that Great Gray Owls call home. Matt has worked as a wildlife biologist for 8 years, after working as a forester and firefighter in the area. Growing up in the Okanogan Valley, Matt has firsthand knowledge of where to find these charismatic owls and has spent many nights and early mornings out searching the forests for their presence. 

Great Gray near Havillah - Photo by Lee Johnson

Photo by Lee Johnson 
This Great Grey Owl raised one nestling in 2013, near Havillah. It fledged on June 15th, which is normally about a month after hatching.

 Matt Marsh
Matt Marsh, Wildlife Biologist
"These owls are elusive but once you see your first, you'll never forget the experience," says Matt Marsh. "I hope to share my knowledge and experiences about the owls with others who may have never known they lived in our forest and grasslands, and also learn from residents who live with them on their property.”

The Great Gray Owl event will take place on Friday, November 7, at the Community Cultural Center (CCC) of Tonasket, beginning at 6:30 pm with dinner benefiting the CCC at 5:15 pm. 

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To begin or renew your OHA membership and be first in line to register for the summertime events, please visit, or contact OHA for more information. To sign up for this event, email or call 509-476-2432. The starting time and location will be provided upon registration.

The 2012 Summertime Highland Wonders season brought Cedar Ecology, The Magic of Wetlands, and a school bus tour highlighting the Geology of the Okanogan Highlands. The 2013 outdoor season brought Seeing the Forest Among the Trees, Watershed Functioning, Plant Ecology and Stream Processes, Geology of the Okanogan Highlands, and Grassland Ecology and Grass ID. Each of these events was jam-packed with information tailored to the sights, sounds, and natural history of the highlands. The events are often full to capacity. Be sure to begin or renew your OHA membership for priority in signing up for next summer's events. 

The 2014 outdoor season brought Viva la Naturaleza for Spanish-speaking families in May, Stream Ecology in July, and Geology of the Okanogan Highlands on August 16th. 

Questions? Contact OHA's Conservation Coordinator, Julie Ashmore: