Introducing “Billie” the barred owl. She’s here at Westwood Hills Nature Center doing some birdwatching. She’s joined by her friends the pileated woodpecker, a painted turtle, a wood frog, a monarch butterfly and a honey bee! Be sure to take a selfie with Billie and share on social media using the hashtags: #DiscoverSLP and #WeLoveAdamTurman. You might just win a fabulous prize pack!
Fun fact: Barred Owls are large, stocky owls with rounded heads, no ear tufts, and medium length, rounded tails. They are larger than a Great Horned Owl, but smaller than a Barn Owl – about 16.9 – 19.7 inches in length. Their hooting call sounds as if they are saying, “Who cooks for you?” You can view a male barred owl, as well as red-tailed hawk, here in the mews at the back of Westwood Hills Interpretive Center.
An Urban Oasis
Westwood Hills is an inviting oasis with 160 acres of marsh, woods, and restored prairie. More than 3 miles of trails and walkways provide hikers with can’t-miss opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. The preserve is beautiful throughout the seasons and provides homes for many animals, including deer, turtles, fox, mink and owls. The Nature Center trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset, year-round.
An Eco-Friendly Interpretive Center
You’ll definitely want to explore the new Interpretive Center. It’s full of interactive exhibits, such as a display on pollinators and the important role they play, as well as live animals, including a flying squirrel, a red-tailed hawk and a barred owl. Professionally trained naturalists lead a variety of fun, informative and hands-on environmental education and outdoor recreation programs throughout the year
In addition to delightful exhibits, the Interpretive Center itself features an award-winning eco-friendly design. Purposefully built to minimize the impact on existing habitats with net zero-energy goals, the building uses both active and passive solar heat and power, daylight harvesting, radiant in-floor heating, and utilizes geothermal wellfield. Rain gardens reduce stormwater runoff into the wetlands and bird-friendly glass prevents window collisions.
In the center of the Nature Center lies Westwood Lake, a 64-acre lake that’s stocked with bluegills. Grab your pole and head out to the fishing pier. Or rent one of Westwood’s canoes and go for a paddle. Kids will love running along the floating boardwalk that crosses over the lake.
Feeling hungry from all your explorations? Kip’s Irish Pub is a short, 6-min drive to the northwest. This authentic Irish pub has ample seating and large patio with a fire pit. You’ll love the authentic fish & chips, corned beef & cabbage, shepherd’s pie and Guinness braised beef short ribs. They also serve angus burgers (and a quinoa burger), salads and fun appetizers like wings and pub pretzels. Their kids menu includes grilled cheese, mini burgers and chicken tenders.
Or head east along 394 towards the West End and stop in at JJ’s Clubhouse, a popular neighborhood sports bar serving classic American food, including an array of burgers, sandwiches, pizza, soups, salads and entrées such as beer battered walleye, chicken pot pie, lasagna and more.
A bit further down, stop by Yangtze Chinese for classic Hunan, Szechaun, Mandarin and Cantonese dishes. Next door, Taste of India offers made-from-scratch Indian dishes with an artful blend of exotic ingredients, while family-owned JC’s Subs serves up made-to-order subs, plus salads and housemade soups.
We hope you’ve enjoyed exploring Westwood Hills Nature Center!
Don’t forget to visit the other 9 characters on the Adam Turman Artventure!