A hoot owl and Eastern box
turtle were just some of the creatures that connected children to nature in
Sands Point on Sunday.
That’s when The Friends of The Sands Point Preserve presented “Living with Wildlife on Long Island,” featuring the conservation group Volunteers for Wildlife and several animals in their care.
More than 45 children and their caregivers settled in at the preserve’s Castle Gould to learn about rescued animals that call Long Island home.
Animals cared for by Locust Valley-based Volunteers for Wildlife might be sick, injured or orphaned, Jim Jones, a retired Port Washington high school teacher, explained to the children.
Animals in distress are brought to the Volunteers for Wildlife hospital at Bailey Arboretum, where veterinarians, including some who work at zoos, treat and rehabilitate them.
“We try to release the animals we help where we find them,” Jones said.
Still, “some are so damaged psychologically or physically” they cannot be released Jones noted. Instead, they are used as “ambassadors to their species” to educate the public in workshops such as the one at Sands Point Preserve, Jones noted.
On Sunday, children met Mikey, a corn snake. These snakes stick out their tongues not to hiss, but to smell. And while they can’t hear, they can feel vibrations, taking off and hiding when they sense another presence. Volunteers first encountered Mikey after receiving a call that he’d been found in a kitchen. That left volunteers unable to determine where he was from on Long Island, and because he might carry bacteria that are harmful to other snakes, they never released him, Jones said.
Next, Jones introduced Rosie, a box turtle. Once attacked by a cat, Rosie now has only one eye. Unable to fend for herself, she resides with Volunteers for Wildlife. Box turtles are common on Long Island, and live in forests, including Sands Point Preserve, Jones said.
Orlando, a screech owl, also calls Bailey Arboretum home. Orlando was discovered after a tree cutter chopped down a treetop with Orlando in it. Because Orlando’s first mental image was that of his human rescuer, having never learned hunting skills from his parents, he could not survive on his own in the wild.
Buster, an American Kestrel falcon, had been taken from a Central Park nest. But he was released once his captor quickly realized that these birds make for unmanageable pets. His early beginnings mean that Buster could not survive on his own, and so lives at Bailey Arboretum. Buster’s beautiful colors – deep oranges and slate blues – make him attractive to his female counterparts. Jones explained that the black stripes under his eyes reflect the glare of daylight, indicating that he is a day-hunter.
Marcus, a great-horned owl, was rescued after getting entangled on a boat’s fishing lines at a nearby marina. Brain-damaged from the trauma, Marcus can no longer hunt for the mice and rats his species likes to eat. Great-horned owls are common on Long Island, especially near Bethpage, and typically nest in January, Jones said.
The next family activity at Sands Point Preserve is Groundhog Day, which will be celebrated Feb. 1 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Get the details.