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Summer Reading Program: Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

Tonight's program presented by Squam Lakes Natural Science Center featured naturalist Eric D'Aleo, his assistant Odin, and three New Hampshire animals from their center.

First, a woodchuck. Eric says they don't name their animals because they are not pets. He showed us slides to help us see what a woodchuck den looks like underground. He said a woodchuck breathes very, very slowly in the winter when they hibernate, and we practiced doing that. We could not touch the animal, but Odin let us feel a woodchuck pelt.
Next, the naturalist brought out an owl. This bird was injured as a baby and has lived its whole life at the Science Center. It was on a tether, but we had to be very quiet so we wouldn't scare it. Eric let volunteers hold an owl wing and compare it to the wings of other birds. It was covered in special feathers that make it so quiet as it moves through the air. Eric taught us about an owl's super hearing ability. We cupped our hands over our ears as he whispered - and we could hear him, even when he stood behind the crowd and we cupped one hand forward and one hand backward. Amazing!
Before he brought out the final animal, Eric and Odin taught us a bit about the speed at which some animals can move. They had a few volunteers run as fast as they could for the length of the room, and they timed them with a stopwatch. A few kids ran as fast as a mink, and one ran as fast as a skunk!
Our last animal was a striped skunk! Its scent glands had been removed so we didn't worry about the smell! A skunk is an omnivore and we watched it sample all kinds of food. Again, the naturalists let us hold a skunk pelt because we couldn't hold a skunk! We learned that a skunk does not really want to spray and will send a predator several warning signals before it does. 
When their presentation was over, we had a chance to examine some of the feathers, wings, eggs, and skulls brought from the Science Center. 
If an owl's head was the size of ours, this is how big its eyes would be! Wow!
Our eyes were really big after this presentation! What a lot to see and learn! Thanks to the Eric, Odin, and the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center for bringing their animals to the Gordon-Nash!

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