Spring color at the Refuge
Fri, 05/16/2014 - 8:24am admin
The arrival of spring was celebrated at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge Saturday with an exhibit from the Audubon Society of the Northwoods, Prairie Restoration, The Friends of the Refuge annual plant sale and a family bird tour and a kids craft project.
The Nature Store was open and there were cookies to much on while Friend Marv Ziner presided over the annual plant sale. Grown locally by Friends members, plants at the sale are climate hardy.
Jeff Tyson and Megan Cook of the Audubon Society of the North Woods brought a golden eagle and a baby owl to show the crowd. They also brought some reptiles, including a grass snake.
But the star of their show was Spike, a porcupine who was found in a logged pine forest when he was two weeks old.
“He was kept as a pet,” said Tyson. “But porcupines make terrible pets. They chew on everything. They have a very strong scent and they shed their quills. But Spike adores people.”
Porcupines like to chew on treated pine wood for the salt content, Tyson said They also eat deer antlers and will swim out to lily pads because they also have a high salt content. A porcupine has about 30,000 quills, which are specialized hairs tipped with microscopic barbs that work their way ino the skin of an enemy.
A porcupine’s main predator is the fisher, a large member of the weasel family, which will grab a porcupine by the face where there are no quills to kill it. Wolves, mountain lions and great horned owls will also attack a porcupine, Tyson said.
“Spike weighs about 18 pounds and the males are generally larger than the females,” Tyson said. “Spike is about as big as he is going to get.”
The Audubon Society sells maple walking sticks to help pay for Spike’s upkeep. They can be purchased online, Tyson said.
Children had an opportunity to create a gift for mom by decorating a plant pot with pretty stickers and potting a flowering plant in it.
One of the developments the Friends of the Refuge are most excited about is the progress made on construction of an environmental education building, which will be complete with two classrooms and bathroom facilities. There will also be room to build an addition to the building was funding becomes available, says Friends President Sue Hix.
The old school house building which served as a classroom for many years has been demolished. The site for the new building has been graded. Parking lots and rain gardens have been installed and a request for bids posted.
“We will keep our fingers crossed that the construction bids will fit the budget of the U. S. fish and Wildlife Services’ Regional Office so construction can begin this year,” Hix said. “We know there will be many ways that the Friends can support this facility.”
Other events coming up on the Refuge include a spring butterfly tour May 31 from 10 a.m. to noon, departing from the Mahnomen Trail, a bird tour June 7 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. leaving from the Blue Hill Trail, and a wildflower tour June 14 from 10 a.m. to noon which meets at Refuge headquarters on Co. Rd. 9