Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ten things I learned at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

I visited the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, a wonderful non profit on Lake Lavon in Lucas Texas. I was able to attend the introduction to their raptors, a walking tour with master naturalists and got  to enjoy the beautiful remnants of the blackland prairie which they are restoring.

I've learned many things today and I consider myself an avid nature lover. There's always so much more to learn and I urge you to get out there and explore. 

1.     I learned the term, Crepuscular, animals that feed at dawn and dusk, as opposed to diurnal and nocturnal-night and day-this I knew. After looking up the word crepuscular, I learned two new words-matutinal-active only before dusk and vespertine active only after sunset.
2.     I didn’t realize that owls have a ear at the top of one side of their head and the bottom of the other.
3.     Screech owls are different colors- a brown phase and a red phase-I knew this, I didn’t know the red phase is more likely in the eastern forest where red barked trees are more prevalent.
4.     The trees that we have in a lot of our area were never there before, because of necessary fires that clear the trees. The native grasses have deep roots and the only trees that survived the fires were the ones closer to creeks and water. The Blackland Prairie is very much different than it once looked-I realized that but didn't know the why.
5.     I learned that owls have no peripheral views-they turn their head up to 240° to see their surroundings.
6.     There are some kids that know a lot more than you would expect. I was impressed with several young kids that had their hands up for every question and were very articulate with their answers.
7.     I learned that I was late putting out the screech owl house and that now they have already in the process. Maybe next year I will get an owl house earlier.
8.     I learned the difference between blue stem grasses, Indian grass and switchgrass.
9.     A malar stripe is a dark streak beneath a falcon’s eye. Much like a football player blocks glare from their eyes, the falcons markings might keep the glare from blinding their eyes in flight.
10. Rousing is when the raptor fluffs up its feathers-they do it when they are comfortable, cold, clean up their feathers, etc. I never knew what it was called.

It’s a very interesting place with great people passionate about wildlife. I would highly recommend it, volunteer or donate to this wonderful non profit. Bring your kids, they are able to see the birds up close, you learn a lot about them and you get to walk the property and learn about the Blackland Prairie and their efforts to restore it.

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