Carpenter Nature Center
As Carpenter Nature Center is so close and one of our favorite places to go to when we get the chance, we thought we would just drop their newsletter in to our blog and pass their information along to everyone.
They are located only a short mile away as the crow flies and five minutes max driving from the inn.
Greetings from all of us at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center-
The snow has blanketed the prairies and decorated the pines. Carpenter Nature Center is a scenic winter wonderland just waiting to be explored. As you hurriedly prepare for a busy holiday season our wildlife is hunkering down for a long winter’s rest. The Green Frogs and Northern Leopard Frogs in the wetland survive the winter nestled down in the mud and debris on the bottom of the pool breathing very slowly through their skin. A few of Minnesota’s other 14 species of frog and toad are bedded down under the leaf litter and snow cover, where up to 65% of their body fluid safely freezes during the winter. Bird species that rely on insects have migrated south, yet rarities can still be seen, as you will read in the story of CNC’s Summer Tanager. The energetic Black-capped Chickadee stays in Minnesota during the winter, surviving by lowering its own body temperature as much as 15 degrees to conserve energy. It may be difficult to believe, but some birds such as Snowy Owls actually migrate TO Minnesota and Wisconsin for the winter. Three of Minnesota’s seven native bat species have migrated south, but the remaining four species survive by hibernating and living on their fat reserves, slowing their breathing and heart rate, and dropping their body temperatures nearly to the air temperature of their caves. Whatever methods you employ to weather the winter, don’t forget to get outdoors, enjoy the sunshine and all the unique wonders that winter in Minnesota brings. Please scroll down to read about some of our news and upcoming events, and don’t forget to RSVP for our programs by calling 651-437-4359.
A REMINDER: CARPENTER NATURE CENTER IS CLOSED ON CHRISTMAS DAY and NEW YEAR’S DAY but will re-open at 8:00 on Monday morning. Look for our January-April 2012 newsletter to arrive in late December by email.
Thank you for your support throughout the year.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from ALL of us at Carpenter Nature Center.
Thank you, Green Beards and a big Give-to-the Max Day success!
THANK YOU to everyone who helped Carpenter Nature Center raise over $12,000 to support environmental education and habitat conservation. Sixty-one donors made gifts to CNC through www.GiveMN.org on Give-to-the-Max Day and the full $1,000 anonymous matching challenge was received. CNC’s executive director was featured live on KARE 11 that morning and to keep it fun, Jim Fitzpatrick pledged to kiss a toad if over $5,000 was raised and dye his beard green if over $10,000 was raised. Dana Nelson, GiveMN’s executive director, had the honor of holding CNC’s American Toad for the kiss. CNC’s volunteer bird banders helped Jim dye his beard “Give-to-the-Max Green” that Friday morning. A photo of Jim can be seen on CNC’s facebook pages and we are working on adding it to the website.
GiveMN is available year-round to make secure, online gifts to CNC via credit card and it is one of the simplest ways to become a “sustaining” monthly donor. If you have any questions or would like to discuss pledging a challenge matching grant to encourage others to support Carpenter Nature Center, please contact me at Jennifer@CarpenterNatureCenter.org or at 651-437-4359. Thank you for all your support on Give-to-the-Max Day and throughout the year.
The Apple Shack is CLOSED for the season
A hearty THANK YOU to everyone who visited the Apple Shack in 2011
The Apple Shack doors have closed on another successful season. Thank you for supporting Carpenter Nature Center through your purchases of apples, pumpkins, jams and jellies. Congratulations to the crew of Apple Shack staff and volunteers who worked diligently to grow and harvest high-quality, eco-friendly produce. At the end of the season an annual tradition is to donate any unsold produce to Second Harvest Heartland, which distributes food quickly and efficiently to nearly 1,000 food shelves, soup kitchens, shelters and programs in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. This is just one more way Carpenter Nature Center partners with other non-profit organizations to help serve our community and extend the reach of our limited resources. Although the apples and squash are gone, there will be some jams, jellies, syrup and salad dressings available for sale at the Visitor Center throughout the winter.
Weird and wonderful wildlife: A Summer Tanager in winter and Snowy Owls “snowbirding” in the Midwest?
On November 14th CNC’s naturalist Alan Maloney spotted a “weird bird”. The beautiful reddish-orange bird turned out to be a Summer Tanager, a species designated a “rare regular” by the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union. There are only a very few Summer Tanagers spotted in Minnesota each year and the northern limit of their range is only southern Iowa. At this time of year, this “bee and wasp specialist” should be on its way to South America for the winter. The bird was most recently seen on Friday, December 2nd and is often found in the conifers near the raccoon sculpture close to the administration or feeding on the bittersweet berries near the Apple Shack. Carpenter Nature Center hosts a few breeding pairs of its relative, the striking Scarlet Tanager. An interesting side-note is that recent studies have shown that North American Tanagers are NOT related to the other 300+ species of tanagers found in the Neo-tropics. North American tanager species are actually more closely related to Cardinals! Perhaps that explains why CNC’s Summer Tanager was often observed hanging out with our resident Northern Cardinals?
This winter season is already providing nature enthusiasts with a treat. Large, white treats with talons and piercing yellow eyes. Snowy Owls live in a delicate balance with their primary food source, the lemming throughout their circumpolar range. Lemming populations go through a dramatic reduction every 3-4 years, called a “population crash”. In a good year a pair of Snowy Owls can raise a dozen chicks, feeding them up to 2,000 lemmings before the chicks are able to hunt on their own! When lemmings are scarce the owls might not even attempt to nest. During such a year, these huge owls head south for the winter to find more food, sometimes “irrupting” as far south as Texas and Florida! There seems to be some debate as to whether our current owl irruption was sparked by a low lemming population, or an overly successful Snowy Owl breeding season. Whatever the cause, there are snowy owls being spotted all over the region. A local bird watcher spotted a Snowy Owl near 100th St and Neal in Southern Washington County this past weekend. When observing Snowy Owls it is actually possible to determine whether you are looking at a male owl or a female by the amount on black barring. Experienced birders can even “age” the birds by the extent and pattern of the barring as male and female Snowy Owls get lighter with age. If you are heading out to look for wild Snowy Owls and are fortunate enough to find one, please enjoy the bird from a distance for the owl’s safety. There have been a number of Snowy Owls in our area that have died due to starvation and there will likely be many others killed by cars. Any additional stresses your activities bring to these magnificent creatures could end up being a matter of life and death for the owls. If you are curious about the extent of the irruption here is a link to the general sightings of snowy owls this winter: http://tiny.cc/soq91 Owl irruptions are truly an amazing winter spectacle!
MOONLIGHT SNOWSHOE HIKES
January 6 & February 3 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Enjoy a winter night under the moonlight with a relaxing snowshoe hike at Carpenter Nature Center. Warm up by the fire after the hike and enjoy some fresh popcorn and hot apple cider. Snowshoes provided or bring your own; no experience necessary. Dress appropriately for the weather and wear warm boots; recommended for ages 10 and up. Choose which date works best for you and call 651-437-4359 for reservations. Program fee: $8.00 per person or $6.00 for “Friends of CNC”
Friday, December 9th 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Why not visit CNC with your children or grandchildren to enjoy the “WHO HIBERNATES?” Story time? As usual the program is 10:00-11:00 a.m. and incorporates a story, a nature walk, and an art or craft project. The program fee is $5 per child or $3 for “Friends of CNC”. There is no charge for accompanying adults. The Preschool Story Time series has been partially funded through support from Target.
Friday, December 23rd 8:30 a.m. – noon
Or stop by and visit the bird banders on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23rd between 8:30 and noon to watch BIRD BANDING and to learn about the many songbirds that brave our Minnesota winters. During the colder months the banders put away the Mist Nets and use Potters Traps to catch songbirds, which are then banded and released. At this time of year we typically band more ground feeding birds, such as Slate-colored Juncos and a few Blue Jays and Cardinals. As always this is a FREE program but donations of bird seed and suet are welcomed.
We are still looking for some volunteers in the animal care area, with open shifts for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday. This is a fun activity to do on your own or with a friend. Duties include critter feeding anytime from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you are more interested in something you can do from home, or in the office, we have something for everyone from brochure design to greeting visitors to data entry, social media updates, mailings and more. Come and join our fun, friendly family. You will be glad you did.
Year-End Gifts and tax-deductible donations
Financial donations to CNC are generally 100% tax-deductible and you can rest assured that every dollar you donated is stretched as far as it can go to reach as many students as possible. Your official CNC Thank You Letter will provide the proof you need to claim your donation as a tax-deduction if you itemize. If you have misplaced your letter please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer for another copy. As always – we are grateful for your support, whether financial donations, in-kind donations, or volunteer assistance. Carpenter Nature Center is a regional asset because of the many wonderful people involved on all levels throughout its history. You can become a ‘Friend of CNC’ through our website www.CarpenterNatureCenter.org, through www.GiveMN.org or on our Facebook page. You can also visit our website to view our current wish list and find out which items we need-such as LIQUID HAND SOAP and CHILD-SIZED SNOWSHOES.
Thank you for helping keep nature and environmental education a vital part of our children’s lives, and for helping keep Carpenter Nature Center open to the public 361 days-a-year.