The Night Birds of White Canyon

Love owls? How about poorwills? Make for Mount Diablo.

BEYOND THE BOOKSHELF: We're not sure if owls have mystery because, well, they're featured in many a mystery, and, yes, the Harry Potter books, and many a childhood adventure story. But all nighttime birds have a bit of mystique. Humans have so many myths and sayings associated with birds being up at dawn and with the sun that we tend to get a little fascinated with those winged creatures who choose to keep late hours and skip the whole crowing-at-sunrise bit. So, yes, "The Night Birds of White Canyon" almost could double for a Hardy Boys title, but it is exactly what you'll be looking for and where you'll be should you join the Mount Diablo Interpretative Association's trio of upcoming night hikes. Dates? June 22, 29, and July 13, Saturdays all.

WELL, LET'S DISCUSS "NIGHT": The hikes are on from 7 to 9 p.m., meaning darkness will be falling toward the end of your three-mile ramble. Evening or twilight is more accurate, but the night birds you're looking for aren't going to fuss over etymology; they'll be out, or should be, before full dark arrives. You'll be looking for common poorwills and owls, both, so bet you'll see some birdage before returning to Mitchell Canyon Visitors Center and Trailhead in Walnut Creek.

THE STUFF TO KNOW: The fee is six bucks per car, so round up your fellow feather fans. A flashlight and binoculars are recommended brings, as is water, of course. Call it a peaceful night hike near the very longest days of the year. Truly, there is something magical to that, even if it hasn't been told in a children's adventure story.

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