"Every bird has its own personality," said Norm Smith while presenting a barn owl. Alison L. Mead

Monday, May 13, 2013

The thunder and rain held off just long enough for Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary to host its Citizen Science Celebration last Saturday. Visitors had the opportunity to participate in hands-on citizen science work, starting with a guided bird walk and ending with a salamander survey.

The event was held so adults and children could get an up close look at the various data gathering activities happening at the sanctuary and to inspire volunteerism.

“A big piece of this is finding people to help us to do this research,” said sanctuary director Suzan Bellincampi. “By engaging people we can do more of the work.”

The sanctuary relies heavily on volunteers to help carry out many of their wildlife monitoring activities. This includes horseshoe crabs, salamanders, shorebirds and odonates (dragonflies and damselflies). “It’s a hands-on opportunity to be part of wildlife research,” said Ms. Bellincampi. “The more people get involved, the more people get how our actions affect our environment.”

The event also partnered with other wildlife organizations, such as Biodiversity Works, which had a table dedicated to their otter project, where visitors could view otter scat up close and personal through a microscope.

But the big excitement was the live birds of prey presentation.

Norm Smith, sanctuary director at the Mass Audubon Blue Hills in Milton, brought several raptors to the Island: a barn owl, screech owl, great-horned owl and peregrine falcon. The birds have been injured and can no longer live in the wild, so now they serve as “ambassadors for the species.” Mr. Smith travels all over the state and is especially interested in sharing his knowledge with young people.

“We want to stimulate as many kids as we can find,” he said. “To get kids outside is the key component so we can better understand and appreciate what’s in our environment.”

For those who want to check out the environment on a minute to minute base, Felix Neck has a live-streaming owl camera. To see what mama and papa owl and their little brood are up to in the Felix Neck barn, visit http://www.ustream.tv/channel/felix-neck-owl-cam.





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