By JEFF TOME
For Jamestown Audubon
Possibility. This is one of the best things about Audubon. There is always the possibility of almost anything happening. With a building set in the midst of a wild area, there is always the possibility of seeing something amazing amazingly close.
Meet the Animals at Doors Open Jamestown on
January 21 at Audubon - Photo by Jeff Tome
Today, a cooper's hawk sat in a tree just a little ways from the building, watching the birdfeeder for a tasty bird to forget that it was there. Other days, I have seen hawks eat birds at the birdfeeder. On one unforgettable day, a giant rough-legged hawk ate an immature cooper's hawk under the pine tree in the backyard, doing a victory dance around the body.
Other news from the trails lately includes sightings of river otters, blue herons, bald eagles, deer, and more. That's the great thing about being at Audubon. Nothing is happening one minute. The next minute, a mink is swimming in the backyard pond. The building and trails are just full of possibility.
These things are going to happen regardless of whether you are there to see them. There will be bald eagles flying over and river otters diving in the pond whether there is a witness or not, but wouldn't it be great to see that? Audubon's trails and building are perfect for stumbling across wild happenings.
If that isn't enough, the staff at Audubon will create some possibilities for you.
Jan. 21 is shaping up to be one of those days full of possibilities.
This is the day of Doors Open Jamestown, which means admission to Audubon is free for the day. There will be lots of other places with free admission, like the Fenton, Roger Tory Peterson Institute and others. Keep an eye on the paper for more information about this annual event.
In addition to free admission, there will be some other great things happening at Audubon. Someone will be hanging out with our live animals, so you can come to Audubon and get a chance to touch the turtles or, if you are brave, feel the snake. Reptile experts will be on hand to show you some of the animals and let you touch them. If you are lucky, you may even get to see one eat!
If scaly beasts aren't to your taste, there will be a table set up with fur from local animals. Discover the coarse hair on a bear or feel how soft a beaver can be. Keep an eye out in the backyard for muskrats and mink swimming in the ponds and deer browsing on the bushes along the edge.
There will also be a free workshop on saving energy from 10 a.m. to noon, conducted by Wendy Sanfillipo of Cornell Cooperative Extension. Wendy is the WNY Energy $mart Communities Coordinator and has an amazing workshop on all the things that you can do to lower your energy bills. She will also be giving out free kits to save energy in the home. To attend this free workshop and get a kit, you have to call Audubon and register before January 18th so that materials can be prepared for you.
Energy conservation opens up even more possibilities. Think of all the great things you could buy if you had more money, which is one thing that conservation gets for you. Audubon, through a combination of solar panels and conservation, has had a negative electricity bill for the last two months in a row. Personally, my bills went down by a third when I started working to save energy.
Nature's possibilities are endless, and there are some amazing things that happen out there. Another possibility that day is Audubon's Winter Insect program. Most people think that winter is insect-free, but there are a remarkable number of insects that are active all winter long.
There are winter active moths and butterflies, caterpillars, mosquitoes and more. Some insects are even ONLY active in the winter.
The winter insect program will take place on Jan. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. The program is for adults and interested young adults, with a fee of $10 for members and $12 for non-members. Pre-registration is appreciated.
And even if you can't come out for any of the great things on Jan. 21, there is always the possibility of something great happening on any given day at Audubon. On a short hike today at lunch, there was a deer that stood and watched me from 20 feet away. Mink tracks bounded across a pond and into a hole in the snow. A flock of birds, peeping, hinking and deeing, scattered across the trail in front of me. Caterpillars crawled across the snow and beetles hid in old woodpecker holes.
Whether you are at Audubon or elsewhere, life is full of possibilities. You just have to pay attention to see them.
Jeff Tome is a naturalist at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary, where he continues to marvel at all the things that happen outside. Jeff, along with some other Audubon staff and volunteers, will be available for Doors Open Jamestown on Jan. 21, when building admission is free. For more information on Audubon and its programs, visit jamestownaudubon.org.