U of A Museum's Monthly Speaker to Discuss Elusive 'Ghost' Owls

Dark, backlit portrait of Mitchell Pruitt holding a northern saw-whet owl in his hand.
Melyssa St. Michael

Dark, backlit portrait of Mitchell Pruitt holding a northern saw-whet owl in his hand.

It's going to be a hoot!

The University of Arkansas Museum is hosting its monthly speaker, doctoral student Mitchell Pruitt and his talk "Ghost Owls: An Introduction to One of the Ozark's Most Elusive Creatures," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Arkansas Archeological Survey Building, at 2475 N. Hatch Ave. This talk is free and open to the public.

Currently, Pruitt is a teaching assistant and doctoral student with the university's Department of Biological Sciences.

Pruitt will discuss his work on the rare northern saw-whet owl, which is notoriously silent and difficult to locate during the nonbreeding season. His research investigates migration patterns of the owl in the state.

Prior to the beginning of this research in 2014, the saw-whet owl was virtually unknown to Arkansas. After five years of migration study, the species is now understood to be a regular fall migrant throughout the Ozark Highlands ecoregion; and after two years of radio telemetry study, the species can be considered a winter resident in upland pine forest in northwest Arkansas.

During the event, the museum will also share a selection of taxidermy birds and eggs especially chosen by Pruitt. The museum's bird collection is well-represented by specimens from the state of Arkansas. The late Douglas James, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences for many years, donated approximately 1,000 study specimens for the book he co-authored, Arkansas Birds.

There will be no live animals at the event.

For those who can't make it on Oct. 24, the museum will also host a table in the Arkansas Union in front of the Food Court from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23. This table will include a selection of bird specimens and give visitors the opportunity to speak with museum staff.

In addition to Pruitt's lecture, this free event will also include free snacks and a fun bird activity.

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