Please do not take the stamp or the stamp pad from this cache. As it is a **letterbox** these items must remain inside and be available for those people who are stamping their Passport for the GeoTour.
Welcome to Rye Preserve!
Whooooo’s been here at night and heard the sounds of the forest? Rye Preserve’s woods are filled with nocturnal creatures, from bats and opossums to armadillos and spiders. But one of the most famous night time animals is also one of the hardest to spot. Whooooo is it? Rye Preserve’s owls of course!
Florida is home to 5 different owl species. The barn, barred, eastern screech, great horned, and burrowing owls can be found living in the state year-round. There are also “visitor owls” that may appear when the weather is warmer than their home state. Of the 5 owls the largest (great horned owl) and the smallest (eastern screech owl) have feather tufts on their head while the barred, barn, and burrowing do not. Owls are primarily nocturnal, being active at night and less active or asleep during the day, and are considered to be the top of the nighttime food chain. As raptors, owls are a bird that hunts with its feet and each toe is equipped with a talon, a sharp curved claw on the tip of each toe. The talons help them capture and grasp their prey which can include mice, rats, snakes, palmetto bugs, and even skunks.
Barred owl. Photo by Bil Foxworthy
We often think of owls as having great hearing and eyesight, and both of these senses do play a role in helping them to catch their prey. They also rely upon the element of surprise to sneak up on animals such as rats and mice that have extremely good hearing as well. This is accomplished through silent flight; an owl’s flight through the night is completely soundless. Unlike most birds, owl feathers have tiny filaments on each individual barb. These “flutings” have a sort of comb-like edge on the primary wing feathers. When a normal bird flies, air passes over the surface of the wing, creating turbulence, and a gushing noise. Even this soft noise could be heard by the rats and mice that owls hunt. So the predator’s adaptation is the comb-like edge of the feather; the tiny flutings break down the turbulence and help muffle the sound.
Red phase of an eastern screech owl. Photo by James Sheridan
Great horned owl feather. Photo by Kaje Housman
Rye Preserve’s woods are a favorite for three of the state’s five owls. Eastern screech, great horned, and barred owls have all been spotted and heard calling in the forest. A careful observer will see them perched in the pines – but you’ll have to look carefully as their mottled feather colorings help them to blend in with the trees.
Anyone can claim this cache, but to be eligible for the Taking Flight Geo Tag, stamp your passport with the special stamp included in the cache box.
Visit the sites along the Taking Flight GeoTour (TFGT) and learn about Manatee County’s wild spaces and the amazing feathered friends that live in them. Along the way, you will be challenged to become a citizen scientist, a preserve ranger, a detective, a historian, and of course an excellent geocacher in order to find all of the caches in the trail. Caches are located in birding “hot spots” throughout Manatee County’s publicly accessible conservation preserves. Each one highlights a specific bird species or aspect of bird life providing you with opportunities to learn more about these creatures and what we can do to help them survive. Caches also focus on protecting the region's waterways, bays, and natural watersheds, and habitat areas for many of our area’s feathered fliers.
The Taking Flight GeoTour includes 15 caches within Manatee County. A custom Taking Flight Geo Tour trackable geo tag will be awarded to the first 300 geocachers, while supplies last, for locating at least 12 TFGT caches. To be eligible for the tag, geocachers must download a passport from the TFGT Website or pick one up at the Manatee County Natural Parks & Natural Resources Department office at GT Bray Park 5502 33 rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, FL., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Geocachers must log at least 12 finds, answer the question from each cache on their passport, and complete any additional requirements for specific caches (such as posting photos for earth caches). After finding a minimum of 12 caches, participants can have their passports validated in person or via mail at the Manatee County Natural Parks & Natural Resources Department office at GT Bray Park 5502 33 rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, FL 34209, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. News and updates on tag availability and validation hours can be found online at the Parks & Natural Resources Department's website.
Thank you for assisting with the Taking Flight GeoTour: