Christmas with the Critters – December 30

Celebrate Christmas with the Critters at Nature Center

Jamestown, NY – The animals at the Audubon Nature Center love the holidays, when they see lots of visitors and get new things for their homes.

On Tuesday, December 30, you can meet some live animals during a presentation at Christmas With the Critters.

At the 10-11:30 a.m. event, Nature Center staff will bring various animals out to meet you. You can learn about them, touch some, and wish them a very happy holiday.

Making ornaments to feed the birds

Making ornaments to feed the birds is just one of the fun activities when you celebrate Christmas with the Critters at the Audubon Nature Center. The event on Tuesday morning, December 30, will also feature a live animal presentation and behind-the-scenes visit to Liberty’s kitchen, where food for the non-releasable Bald Eagle is prepared.

Participants will also open any gifts from the “Giving Tree,” make a craft to help backyard animals and take a tour of Liberty’s kitchen, to see what happens with the Bald Eagle behind-the-scenes.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with our education animals,” said Sarah Hatfield, Senior Naturalist, who heads up Animal Care at Audubon.

Admission to the party is $8, $6 for Friends of the Nature Center and children 3-15, and free for children two and under.

Instead of cash admissions, you can bring a gift for the animals or the children who attend Nature Center programs. You can take a gift tag from the Giving Tree that stands in the lobby of the Nature Center building, purchase the item, and bring it back as your admission. If you can’t attend the event, you can place your wrapped gift under the tree beforehand.

The gifts benefit Audubon’s educational reptiles and amphibians, the fish, Liberty the Bald Eagle, the outdoor wildlife, and the children’s educational programs.

Suggested gifts include paper towels, scrubby sponges, gallon Ziploc bags, brown rice, vinegar, bleach, and gift cards to PetSmart, Clearwater Aquarium and Walmart. Kickballs, hula hoops, lawn toys, and playground balls are also appreciated. For a more detailed list of welcomed gifts, click on “Christmas with the Critters” at http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

Reservations are not required.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.

To learn more, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in News Release, Program

On Extinction

On Extinction
by Sarah Hatfield

Driving down Route 62 the other day, along the edge of the Allegheny State Forest, I was impressed by the forest, the wildness, the vastness of the treed landscape. The colors, the depth, the contours of the land were appealing. The thickness of the growth was soothing. It was a nice drive.

Chipmunk and chestnut

A Chipmunk is one of the beneficiaries of chestnuts. Photo by Jeff Tome.

Through conversations that followed, my thought process went deeper… All that forest is new, because we cut it all down not that long ago. It is daunting to think of cutting all those trees today. And yet they cut them all with crosscut saws! Just men, in the woods with hand tools and water and mud and gravity and sweat and maybe horses, and an industriousness that has been lost. I can imagine them at the time, looking at the forest giants, working at the pace they were working, thinking “There is no way we will ever run out of giants trees to cut – they go on forever.”

We know better today. Some don’t last forever. As I wander under the canopy of Eastern Hemlocks, their trunks too large to wrap my arms around, I savor the moment. They may be gone in my lifetime. Surviving the timber era, the homesteading era, the encroachment of civilization, the unquenchable human thirst for natural resources, these trees will finally fall to a tiny insect that skipped over oceans on the coattails of humans. I cannot imagine the woods without their looming, shadowy presence.

Chestnut Log Cabin

A cabin made of chestnut wood. Photo by Jennifer Schlick.

I stand at the base of an American Beech, its top snapped off, its bark flaking as it decays while still standing upright. Years dead, killed by another hitchhiking combination of insect and fungus, the skeleton towers over me as a reminder of what once was. I remember the beeches as a child, they stand out in my memory from walks in the woods.

I stare at a stump – old, very decayed, soft under the pressure of my fingertips. “Probably chestnut.” Those giants – and giants they were – are gone. I’ve seen photos, I’ve heard stories, but I have no acquaintance of the tree that once made up one quarter of the eastern forests. It is a legend, it is a ghost. But I hear the stories, and I hope that someday they will overcome the chestnut blight (yet another hitchhiker from abroad) and once again reclaim the woodland crown they wore so well.

These trees sit on a timeline. Their days are numbered, and even if they do survive, they will be different for having done so. Extinction doesn’t mess around – it consumes, it annihilates, it removes forever. None of the trees above are extinct… yet. The American Chestnut is the closest – most young trees are sprouting from old rootstock and the roots won’t live eternally. It reminds me of the story of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, in her cage. Sure, she was still alive, and so therefore was the species. But with no hope of reproduction, no future, she was already extinct long before she died in 1914.

Cub Scouts in Simpson Bird Room

Students look at bird in the Simpson Collection, which contains a Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, and Bachman’s Warbler, all extinct.

Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island Galapagos Giant Tortoise, died on June 24, 2012. The subspecies went extinct as a result of human hunting (as did the Passenger Pigeon, just FYI). Like Martha, he was extinct when he was discovered in 1971 as the last of his kind. Estimated to be about 100 at the time he died, humans had 43 years of caring for him, remembering every day that the reason he was the walking dead was because of our short-sightedness. We made him lonesome. That’s a burden.

George and Martha were known, loved, and are both preserved in perpetuity as a reminder. The last Great Auk (killed in 1844) is stuffed and mounted in Iceland. These specimens are symbolic of a species that we wiped out, they are icons of a lesson we have yet to learn. Nature is a tough mother, and she favors the strongest and fittest. Extinction is an ancient and ongoing process that creates a healthier dynamic. Nature is good as what she does. Perhaps the lesson we need to learn is that we are not qualified to step into her shoes.

There isn’t always an endless supply. It may appear so to us, but we don’t know. There is so much we don’t know. Looking at a 200-year-old landscape, I might also have been inclined to think “the chestnuts will always be here, there are so many of them.” I’m sure that went through the minds of people in the 1800s as they stood under skies blackened by flocks of birds, hundreds of thousands strong. “We’ll never shoot them all,” they thought as they fired guns into the flocks, knocked them from the air with sticks, and netted them from trees. But then one day… they were gone.

People remembered. They told stories of the great flocks, the towering trees, the giant tortoises. Sailors regaled their families with tales of Dodos and Tasmanian Tigers (Thylacines), fisherman waxed nostalgic about the tons of Atlantic Cod they piled into their nets. They are just that now, stories. Atlantic Cod exists, but not as it used to. Tasmanian Tigers and Passenger Pigeons joined the ranks of Great Auks, Eastern Elk, and Dodos as animals wiped off the face of the Earth by humans. Today countless species, from rhinos to Bluefin Tuna are teetering on the brink, vying for title of next extinction at the hands of humans.

And yet, extinction does not remove them from our collective memory. As long as we remember, they are still here in a way, a mournful reminder of what once was and what could be. I will never see a landscape dominated by denizen American Chestnuts, whose seeds feed Eastern Elk and Passenger Pigeons. But I know that landscape used to be here. It is when we forget, when the stories are no longer told, that a different extinction takes place.

No longer is the lesson, the beauty, the hope, and the loss woven into our past. There is nothing to mourn when we forget that living, breathing things once roamed here and grew tall and now do not. We lose something more when we lose the memory of what’s been lost. Let’s remember, in as many ways as we can. Through walks and research, talks and art, photography, acting, and imaginative play. Let us not allow the Blue Walleye, the Carolina Parakeet, the Moa, or the Eastern Cougar to disappear again.

Join us for First Friday, January 2, from 11:00am until about noon, for a showing of “The Lost Bird Project.” This short documentary follows the journey of artist Todd McGrain and his brother-in-law as they seek to find the last known location of five recently extinct birds. There is a small fee, $8 or $6 if you are a Friend of the Nature Center. Bring a brown bag lunch and join us after the program for conversation and company.

Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails and eagle viewing are open dawn to dusk. The Nature Center is open from 10:00am-4:30pm Saturdays and Mondays and from 1:00pm-4:30pm on Sundays. We will have special holidays hours between Christmas and New Years, please check the website, http://jamestownaudubon.org or call (716) 569-2345 for more information.

Sarah Hatfield is a naturalist at Audubon.

Posted in Article, Sarah Hatfield

Winter Lights Has Exciting Opening Weekend

Winter Lights at Audubon Has Exciting First Weekend

Jamestown, NY – The debut weekend for the second annual Winter Lights at Audubon had visitors “oohing” and “aahing” at the spectacular interactive outdoor LED light display at the Nature Center.

Two weekends remain when you can explore and participate with a trail of interactive lights.

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Winter Lights at Audubon got off to a great start last weekend, with visitors “oohing” and “aahing” at the spectacular outdoor LED light display. This year there are interactive lights inside as well as out. Here Nature Center Program Director Jennifer Schlick plays with the interactive characters on the TV screen that mimic everything she does.

You can play a drum to change the play of lights by the fire, play search-and-find with a flashlight that makes animals light up and make noise, and roll the earth through the seasons. This year, the number of lasers in the show has doubled, creating amazing effects on the building and at the overlook at the end of the trail.

Not only have opportunities been added outdoors to this year’s one-of-a-kind lights show, there are interactive light experiences indoors as well.

An outdoor fire, food, and entertainment round out an evening that you don’t want to miss.

Winter Lights at Audubon continues on Fridays and Saturdays, December 19 and 20, and 26 and 27. Thursday, December 18, is “Over 21 Night,” with live music and additional fun. The final night for Winter Lights is Sunday, December 28.

Hours for all evenings are 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Visitors can expect to walk about a half mile on a paved and ice-free trail. Remember to dress to be outside with warm winter gloves, boots and coat.

Winter Lights at Audubon was created by Steve and Julie French of Volt Vision, a Warren, Pennsylvania, company, in collaboration with the staff of the Audubon Nature Center. Steve is an electrical engineer with a creative streak who has coordinated interactive lights at the Niagara Botanical Gardens as well as being an international presenter on how to use LED lighting solutions.

Winter Lights is also supported by Shawbucks.

Admission is $10, $8 for Friends of the Nature Center and children 3-15, and free for ages 2 and under. The $20 admission for “Over 21 Night” on Thursday, December 18, includes three 8-oz beers or soft drinks, snacks, and live music. Reservations are not required.

The Audubon Nature Center is conveniently located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.

For more information, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in Event, Fundraiser, News Release

Snowflake Festival – Feb 7, 2015

Audubon Snowflake Festival Welcomes Sponsors, Vendors, Scouts and Volunteers

Jamestown, NY – The Audubon Nature Center is welcoming sponsors, vendors and volunteers to participate in its 2015 Snowflake Festival, planned for Saturday, February 7.

Snowflake Festival 2014_02-01-14_64

The Audubon Nature Center is inviting businesses, organizations, and individuals to participate in the 2015 Snowflake Festival as sponsors, vendors, demonstrators, and volunteers. This winter extravaganza is also an opportunity for Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts of any age group to earn a Winter Fun patch. Dun Roving Farm is returning to the Saturday, February 7 event as both a sponsor and vendor of alpaca yarn products. They will again be bringing some of their animals for festival visitors to enjoy.

Audubon’s longest running festival is always a crowd pleaser. Outdoor opportunities include snowshoeing, cross country skiing, naturalist-guided hikes, horse drawn wagon rides, and husky sled dog demonstrations. Inside there are programs on birds of prey, crafts, a scavenger hunt, vendors and snacks.

Businesses and organizations are invited to participate as vendors and/or to give demonstrations at the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. event. Vendors are all mission related and help Audubon promote its message. Before submitting an application, please contact the festival coordinator, Sarah Hatfield, at (716) 569-2345 or shatfield@jamestownaudubon.org.

Sponsors help underwrite the costs of this winter extravaganza. In return, they receive a variety of benefits. Details can be found at http://www.snowflakefestival.wordpress.com/sponsors.

Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts of any age group can earn a Winter Fun patch by completing certain activities at the Festival. For more information or to sign up your group, call Audubon at (716) 569-2345 or use the online form at http://www.snowflakefestival.wordpress.com/scouts.

Presenting the Snowflake Festival requires the dedication of many volunteers, some of whom are registered with RSVP, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Volunteers are needed to do everything from selling snacks and operating the elevator to assisting with bluebird house building and snowshoeing. For more information, call (716) 569-2345, ext. 25, or visit http://www.snowflakefestival.wordpress.com/volunteers.

Vendors and demonstrators confirmed to date are Carol Spencer fibers, Dun Roving Farm Alpacas, CCE Master Gardeners of Chautauqua County, Kniti Griti Works clay and pottery, Warren County Master Gardeners, and Queen Anne Soaps.

Snowflake Festival sponsors already on board include Orkin Pest Control, Herbs R 4 U, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Shults Auto Group, Whitmire Outdoor Living & Block Co., Courier Capital Corp., Huber Blacktop, Klinginsmith Plumbing & Heating, Dun Roving Farm, Kniti Gritti Works, and Queen Anne Soaps.

For information on all these opportunities, call (716) 569-2345 or go online to http://www.snowflakefestival.wordpress.com.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Winter hours for the Nature Center and Blue Heron Gift Shop are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays, and 1-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Bald Eagle viewing and trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are open dawn to dusk daily.

To learn more, call (716) 569-2345 or visit jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in Event, Fundraiser, News Release

Special Holiday Hours

Special Holiday Hours at Nature Center

Jamestown, NY – You’ll want to put the Audubon Nature Center on your list of special places to visit during the holidays.

JANC_Winter_12-31-12_26

Be sure to put the Audubon Nature Center on your list of special places to visit during the holidays. The Nature Center is conveniently located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.

Extended holiday hours make it a wonderful destination for a family outing any day.

Normal winter hours for the Audubon Nature Center and Blue Heron Gift Shop are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. on Sundays.

During the holidays they will also be open:
• Friday, December 26, 2014, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
• Tuesday-Wednesday, December 30 and 31, 2014, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
• Friday, January 2, 2014, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Christmas with the Critters on Tuesday morning, December 30, is a time to get “up close and personal” with Audubon’s education animals. The Nature Center building is home to a variety of live reptiles and amphibians, including a garter snake, leopard frog, and spring peeper. Tanks of fish and a variety of turtles entertain and educate.

Also featuring interactive displays that inform and engage visitors of all ages, the Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.

Members and children are admitted to the exhibits free of charge; non-member adults pay only $6. Sunday is a free admission day, and visiting the Blue Heron Gift Shop is always free.
There is no charge to walk, snowshoe or cross country ski the trails, or visit Liberty, the Nature Center’s non-releasable bald eagle, from dawn until dusk every day. Liberty is in her own outdoor enclosure behind the Nature Center building.

To learn more, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in News Release

Frozen Puddles

Frozen Puddles
by Jennifer Schlick

Wolf Run Road

Wolf Run Road, Allegany State Park

Wolf Run Road meanders through a beautiful valley in Allegany State Park. I picked that road for last weekend’s hike because it is mostly flat – good for my slowly healing back injury – and mostly open – so I could enjoy the sunshine.

I drove the entire paved part of the road and enough of the dirt part to get me to the first gate. After December 1, there is no maintenance on the dirt part. It made no difference, though, since the snows that dumped on us last month were all melted away. It was cold though!

It was cold enough that the tire tracks from yesterday’s vehicles were frozen into a crunchy relief and the shallow puddles that had been stirred into a muddy mixture by those same tires were now solid.

Froze PuddleThe patterns and lines formed by water, mud, and pebbles intrigued me. The plants encased in ice in some of the puddles added color. The light made its way through the ice to create highlights and shadows. When ice forms over a lake or pond, you know there is water beneath the surface. These shallow puddles, on the other hand, freeze all the way through and the solid layer lifts itself up and away from the dirt to form dry crevices beneath.

Frozen PuddleI could have photographed the pheasant and the Ruffed Grouse we saw walking along the side of the road, or the Blue Jay or chickadee flitting about in the shrubs, or the Red-tailed Hawk soaring overhead. But that’s not what held my attention. I saw landscapes and maps and figures in the abstract designs of the puddles and snapped way too many pictures. And I thought, “Who, besides me, is going to find these photos interesting?”

I came home and made my blog post and got my answer almost immediately. First, my friend Kristin had been hiking at Allegany, too, and what photo did she post on Facebook? A frozen puddle! And then my friend Kathleen Tenpas, after reading my blog post, responded with this poem she had written a year before:

Shallow puddles
throw themselves
into brittle ice sheets
fine as leaded glass
leaving a hollow depression
dry as deep summer.

I step on the first,
then the second
and they hold,
the third cracks like
summer thunder
startling the blackbirds
in the bare quince.
They fly up,
a whorl of wings
and squawks
tumbling in the air
before settling,
grumbling
about the neighbors

Frozen PuddleThere were several “likes” and comments on Facebook, too. Turns out I’m not the only one who finds puddles more interesting than wildlife… or at least AS interesting. In some cases I think the more abstract, the more universal an image is.

Jennifer Schlick is Program Director at the Audubon Nature Center located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. The Center is currently hosting Winter Lights – an amazing interactive light display – on Fridays and Saturdays through the end of December. For more information, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://jamestownaudubon.org.

Posted in Article, Jennifer Schlick, Photography

Winter Lights at Audubon

“Winter Lights at Audubon” Returns to Nature Center

Jamestown, NY – After a stunning debut last year, “Winter Lights at Audubon” is returning to the Audubon Nature Center.

The spectacular interactive outdoor light display was so popular that it is being presented on three weekends this December, for a total of eight nights.

Winter Night Lights 2013

After a stunning debut last year, “Winter Lights at Audubon” is returning to the Audubon Nature Center. The spectacular interactive outdoor LED light display was so popular that it is being presented on three weekends in December, for a total of eight nights. The drum in the foreground of this picture lets you the control the flashing of lights by Audubon’s building: the faster you drum, the faster the lights change.

You can celebrate the longest, darkest nights of the year by venturing out into the lights, where you will be able to control some of the 10,000 LED lights on a luminary-lit trail.

Through drums, movement, lights and more, visitors make lights dance and swirl and even trigger noises and other reactions, like making an owl hoot. The trail ends with an LED laser show that turns the landscape into a fairyland.

A warm fire at the halfway point, along with hot chocolate and snacks inside, makes for a great evening out.

Winter Lights at Audubon will be presented the last three weekends in December, Fridays and Saturdays December 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27. Thursday, December 18 will be “Over 21 Night,” with live music and additional fun. The final night for Winter Lights will be Sunday, December 28.

Hours for all eight evenings are 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Winter Lights at Audubon has been created by Steve and Julie French of Volt Vision, a Warren, Pennsylvania, company, in collaboration with the staff of the Audubon Nature Center. Steve is an electrical engineer with a creative streak who has coordinated interactive lights at the Niagara Botanical Gardens as well as being an international presenter on how to use LED lighting solutions.

Winter Lights is also supported by Shawbucks.

Admission is $10, $8 for Friends of the Nature Center and children 3-15, and free for ages 2 and under. Reservations are not required.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.

For more information, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Posted in Event, Fundraiser, News Release