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Day of nature

Last modified: 7/26/2012 12:00:00 AM
A day of creepy crawlies, curiosity and a bald eagle finally ready for his close-up, this celebration is made for children, adults and everyone in between.

On Saturday, the New Hampshire Audubon and National Wildlife Federation will hold events at five Audubon sites throughout the state: Amherst, Auburn, Concord, Hebron, and Rye. The free, all-ages event will have live animal demonstrations, sanctuary walks, field and pond explorations, birding activities, and presentations by the Audubon's scientific staff

The event is meant not only to bring people a little closer to nature, but also to celebrate the recent affiliation of the New Hampshire Audubon and National Wildlife Federation.

'The purpose of the affiliation is to strengthen,' said Kelly Wing, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Audubon.

'It's to provide a partnership that strengthens the capacity of each organization. . . . And it works particularly well, because of course, National Wildlife Federation being very large provides resources that a small organization like ourselves might not have. But what we can provide to them is local, on the ground, grassroots resources.'

Though it's just begun, the affiliation has already helped pay for fundraising and development training for the New Hampshire Audubon's staff and board that otherwise might not have happened due to limited financial resources.

But more than internal perks, Wing said association with the national organization may also help with environmental causes locally in the future.

'We're the ones who can actually go to the State House and testify, but certainly having the backing of a national organization adds legitimacy to that cause,' Wing said.

But Saturday's event is all about fun and learning a little bit more about nature. In Concord, the event - located at the Susan McLane Audubon Center - kicks off at 10 a.m. and goes until 3 p.m. Among other activities, kids of all ages will be able to participate in crafts, green building tours, getting free gifts and interacting with live turtle, snakes and frogs. They also will get a chance to go on nature hikes where they can do some pond explorations.

'This involves hiking down to Turkey Pond, grabbing some nets and seeing what can be found in the pond, from frogs to salamanders to bugs and all that kind of good stuff,' Wing said.

During the day kids will also learn about the medicinal plants on the property, eat cake with the National Wildlife Foundation's Ranger Rick the raccoon and learn how biologists use radio telemetry to track birds and what it can teach about their behavior. Among the day's highlights will also be a visit with the center's resident Peregrine falcon and bald eagle.

The eagle came to the center in 1999, after it was found in upstate New York with a broken left wing. The wing had to be amputated, meaning it was not safe for the bird to return to the wild. Instead, he's been cared for by the society.

About a year and a half ago, volunteer Robert Vallieres among some others, started training the bird to be comfortable around people.

'A lot of it has just been spending countless hours with this bird and getting the bird comfortable with him, and really developing a trusting relationship,' Wing said. 'It's really sort of amazing to watch. And the bird is just so impressive. . . . It's just incredible to watch the eagle watching Robert, and Robert watching the eagle and making eye contact, and you just sort of get this feeling that there is a real level of communication between them.'

Though the bird - now 24 years old - already made one school visit, Saturday will mark his grand debut. The presentation will not be hands-on, Wing said.

The center's peregrine falcon will also be on display for observation. She came to the center in 2009 after she was found injured at the Hopkinton Dam. She too had to have her wing amputated, and so lives at the center.

'We generally don't allow any of our live birds to be touched,' Wing said. 'There is certainly a safety reason for that; but we also want to instill, in particular in children, that these are wild animals, these are not pets. It's the same reason we don't name our birds. It's important for children to realize that and that they are here for a reason.'

For information on Saturday's event, visit nhaudubon.org/engage-with-nature. For information on New Hampshire Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit nhaudubon.org.


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