Monday, July 23, 2012

Learning About Birds of Prey at the Ecotarium

My kids, myself and my husband were all very tired yesterday after our family camp out.  We could have stayed home and napped, but I know my kids well enough to know that rarely happens, even when they really need it.

So I suggested a day trip and we were so lucky to stumble upon a class that was just perfect for Alec.


 I figured they'd be tired no matter where we were and at least if we kept them busy they wouldn't fight so much.   We decided to head to the Ecotarium in Worcester, Ma, which is a huge favorite of the boys.  In fact they've asked me a few times if we were going to go there again this year.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that almost ALL the indoor exhibits had changed since our last visit. 
       

It't part nature center, part science museum and it's loads of fun!

 Ian got into a wind tunnel to feel what hurricane force winds were like.  We got to climb a rock wall horizontally to see how hard it is to navigate across a rock formation.  They played with the effects of mountains and valleys on fog, wind effects, and making mountains.  They had a whole area dedicated to different board games all set up for people to play.  We played with bubbles of all shapes and sizes and discovered why soda makes you burp.  We saw ferrets, turtles, porcupines, snakes, skunks, parrots, bull frogs, red foxes, and honey bees making a honey comb.





We bought tickets for the train ride and an extra talk called Birds of Prey that I took Alec and Evan to while my husband and Ian went and tried out the tree walk/ zip line they have.

Alec quickly established himself as an authority on birds of prey answering most of the questions posed to the group, the guides were very impressed with him and called on him frequently.

When asked what a bird of prey was he said it was a bird that ate meat.

When asked how they caught meat he answered that they'd catch mice and things using their talons.

When asked why the birds had certain feather patterns he said so they'd look like the tree which is camouflage.  The audience was a good mix of adults and children and they all were very impressed with his knowledge and willingness to participate-- I was too!

Evan, though much shyer knew several of the answers too and told them quietly to me.  He's started having me read him a few owl books from the library and his most notable owl fact is the barred owl's call "who cooks for you" call; which he actually said several times yesterday.

The guide walked around with a red tailed hawk, a great horned owl, a screech owl and then brought in a bald eagle.   They picked two children, a boy and a girl, to come up and listen to the eagle's heart beat.  Alec's hand shot into the air so fast the guide just laughed and said I figured it would be you; come on up!  So he got to listen to the heartbeat and pet the feathers. 

They passed around various feathers, talons and wings so everyone could see first hand the differences between owls, hawks, and other birds of prey.  Alec was totally enraptured and learned a few new things.  He didn't realize that, unlike mammals, the male birds of prey are actually smaller than the females.   He was saddened to learn that all the birds at the Ecotarium were injured in some way and unable to be returned to the wild.

We later discovered they only have that show twice a year so we were lucky to have stumbled upon it!






As soon as the talk was over we went to watch the otter feeding.  Evan had been waiting very impatiently for this all day.  We thought we were going to be late and miss part of it!

Turns out the woman feeding the otters was one of the women in the birds of prey show and she immediately recognized Alec who then answered most of her questions again!  She told him she hoped to see him again someday; maybe even as a volunteer when he grew up!  

We learned otters have two layers of fur and while playful looking and bashful do have very sharp teeth.  They got to touch an otter pelt and even see the skull of an otter up close.




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