Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fun in the sun!

Yesterday was such a lovely day out on the trail.  It was nice to feel that spring may finally be on its way after all of these cold and damp days recently.  Because it was so nice out, Mr. Red Fox was in a very playful mood.  He found one of the fuzzy dog toys that we have placed out in the exhibit for him to play with whenever he wants to have a bit of fun.  It's part of the enrichment program that we have established for our animals on display.  Enrichment is an activity that encourages natural behavior within our collection's animals.  It can be anything from rearranging the exhibit, adding extra substrate into the exhibit, placing a new toy in the exhibit for the animals to interact with, or placing an unusual scent for them to sniff while on display.  Most animals need activities that would encourage their natural behavior since they have everything provided for them here at the Museum. Here, they have regular meals, a den to sleep in, and plenty of attention and love from the keepers.  Since they don't have the stresses of having to fend for themselves in the wild for various reasons, it's important that we provide activities for them to enjoy.


As you can see, Mr. Red Fox is enjoying some playtime with one of his doggy toys in the nice spring-like weather

Thursday, February 14, 2013

From Whence in the Woods did that Whinny Come?

Did you know the the VLM is home to a few non-releasable Eastern Screech Owls (Otus Asio)? This adorable little bird can be heard amongst the trees in the evening. The screech owl was given it's name because when it calls, amongst it's many vocalizations, it has a high pitched squeal, a tiny little whistle, and even a whinny like a horse.

various screech owl calls

Each morning when I come into work, I have the pleasure of hearing one of this little pint-sized birds "say hello" as I'm getting ready for my day.  The bird in a non-releasable red phase screech owl. Eastern Screech owls come in two color phases, one red and one gray, both of beautiful plumage.

The gray phase owl is on the left, and the red phase owl is on the right.