Meet Denver Holt.
He’s been named a “Champion of Owls” by a jury of international owl experts and been named Montana’s “Wildlife Biologist of the Year.”On Tuesday, March 28, at 7 pm, Holt will present an hour of facts, anecdotes, breath-taking photos, and amazing owl calls at the Large Animal Clinic Auditorium at the College of Veterinary Medicine, 2001 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana. The event is geared for the general public and hosted by the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic.
Not only will attendees have the opportunity to meet Holt, they will also have a chance to bid on a weekend experience with Holt and his owls in the field in Montana (not including travel or accommodations). His March 28 presentation will end with a live auction of this unique experience for two people.
“It’s an incredible privilege to have Denver speak at our college,” said Dr. Julia Whittington, faculty member at the veterinary college and medical director of the Wildlife Medical Clinic. “He is truly renowned and revered in the international wildlife community for his devotion to understanding and preserving owl species, which have received little research attention.”
Lifetime Devoted to Owls
Since 1978, Holt has been researching owls and their ecology, living out his belief that long-term field studies are the primary means to understanding trends in natural history. Holt’s work unites wildlife research, education, and conservation.
A graduate of the University of Montana, Holt has published more than 90 scientific papers, technical documents, and “species accounts” as well as children’s books and other information for lay readers. He’s been featured in news media ranging from National Geographic Magazine to the New York Times; on television networks ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, Disney, NBC, and PBS; and via other platforms around the world.
The Owl Research Institute in Charlo, Mont., which Holt founded, has conducted long-term studies of long-eared owls, snowy owls, and other species; has assessed the populations and habitats of Montana’s 15+ owl species; and has educated thousands of people each year about natural history. The institute, the location of the weekend experience that will be auctioned, is surrounded by wildlife refuges, grasslands, and wetlands and is home to grizzly bears, American bison, and record-setting numbers of raptors.
Working to Educate the Public
To engage the lay public in a deep understanding of wildlife, Holt has replaced the typical “owl-on-a-fist-in-a-classroom” lectures with field trips that introduce people to owl foraging areas, nesting sites, and seasonal activity. A frequent natural history tour guide, he uses ecotourism as an educational and conservation tool.
His talk on the evening of March 28 will address adaptations in owls, and will answer such questions as:
- How well can they see at night?
- How well can they hear?
- Do they really fly silently?
- Why are they so difficult to find?
- And, why do people recognize and admire owls so much?
While visiting the University of Illinois, Holt will also give a presentation to veterinary students focused on his 20+ years of research with snowy owls in the arctic tundra outside Barrow, Alaska.