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Home > Education > School Wildlife Programs > Maine Wildlife Park & Swan Island > Program Descriptions
School Wildlife Program Descriptions
What’s a coldwater fish? What’s a warmwater fish? What’s the difference? What do fish eat, where do they live, how many species do we have in the state? Learn about their external physical adaptations for their lives underwater, then get a chance to inspect a fishes’ internal organs . An excellent and unusual demonstration and hands-on activity for your students.
Maine wildlife exhibits an amazing variety of physical characteristics that enable them to survive and do their jobs within their environment. Learn about Maine habitats, why moose and deer grow antlers, why birds have different shaped bills, why turtles have varied body shapes and appendages, how camouflage benefits those animals that exhibit it, and more!
Using mounted specimens of eagles, osprey and owls, we’ll discuss the different life histories of these impressive raptors. Why are some more common than others? In what habitats do we find them in Maine? What unique adaptations does each species utilize to capture its prey and survive? Why do some migrate while others stay the winter?
Using mounted specimens of songbirds, raptors and waterfowl, we’ll identify the many different
adaptations birds exhibit to blend into their particular habitats. Looking at color, beaks, feet, feathers,
diet and migration habits, we will learn how and where to find a variety of species of birds, and how to
enhance certain habitats for ‘bird life’, and wildlife in general. Then go test your knowledge as you tour
How many animals are endangered or threatened in Maine? Why are they at risk? How does the continuing loss of habitat effect their populations? What is being done to preserve and protect eagles, peregrine falcons, piping plovers and box turtles-even freshwater mussels and burying beetles? Maine's endangered list has changed-bald eagles are off the endangered list, and wolves and cougars are included!
A District Game Warden will go over important survival information for kids if they ever become lost in the woods. Students will learn how to build a shelter, stay warm, conserve energy, and attract the attention of searchers; all techniques that would help your students survive in the woods if lost. A good lesson to go along with studying Don Fendler's book, “Lost on a Mountain in Maine”
Spring is the time that most baby animals and birds are born. Quite often, people find young wildlife in their backyards and back woods, and don’t know what to do. We want to help, but there are many, many do’s and don’ts when faced with the dilemma of a baby robin just saved from the cat’s jaws, or that young fawn alone in the woods, apparently abandoned. Find out how YOU and your students can best help wildlife in these and many more situations.
Swan Island was originally a town in and of itself, know as Perkins Township. With 6 standing homes dating back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a cemetery with headstones dated 1802-1968, the entire island listed in the National Register of Historic Places; and a legacy of ship building, farming, ice harvesting and more; this is a fascinating look back in time. A wonderful Social Studies field trip!
Loons are a common symbol of the wilderness in Maine. Listen to and learn about their natural history, how contaminants like lead and mercury are affecting them, and how lead fishing tackle causes illness and death for many birds in Maine. Kids will learn how they can help protect our loons! Several mounted specimens of loons will be used during this program, as well as audio tapes of loon calls and color photos.
Maine is home to Canada lynx and bobcats. Rarely seen in the wild, learn about the life-styles of these 2 elusive species of cat . Although a verifiable photograph or video of a mountain lion has yet to be taken, hundreds of reports of cougars are recorded annually with the Department, and several tracks have been found that could be in the range of a small mountain lion or large bobcat. Wildlife biologists are continually on the lookout for these secretive felines, follow up solid reports in the field, and conduct track surveys each winter. All 3 species are on exhibit at the Park.
Using skulls, skins, mounts and samples of radio telemetry equipment, we’ll help your students take a closer look at the natural history, current research and management of Maine’s black bears. Does this state really have the most bears of any east of the Mississippi? Do bears really hibernate? Can they run 35-40 miles per hour? Do they have cubs only every other year? Are their favorite foods really nuts and berries? Are Maine’s black bears the biggest in the country? Your students can observe and photograph black bears climbing, swimming and interacting in their large exhibit at the Maine Wildlife Park.
Beavers are the only animal that can create its own habitat, or place to live. They are abundant in Maine, and have an interesting life cycle. Using mounted specimens, skins, skulls and beaver ‘chaw’, we will explore the world of the beaver, take a look at the animals’ place in US and Maine history, and investigate the status of Maine beaver populations today.
Did you know that Maine has a state animal, state flower, state insect, state fish, state cat and even a state soil? If you are working on a Maine Studies unit with your students, this program provides a variety of current and background information about the natural resource symbols used to to represent Maine to the rest of the country, and the world.
Using live and preserved turtle specimens, we'll talk about many of the 10 species of land, aquatic and marine turtles found in Maine. Learn about their natural history, the Maine habitats in which they are found, and some of the threats facing turtles (many are endangered or threatened). Kids will be able to meet live wood and box turtles; and learn how they might be able to help turtles survive in Maine.
Two bald eaglets from 2 separate nests in the Sebago region fell or blew out of their nests during the wild and wet weather of spring 2005. Both suffered permanent injuries to their wings, making it impossible for them to be released back into the wild. These birds are now learning to be ‘program birds’ as a part of live presentations to groups. Come and learn about eagles in Maine, and at the end of the program, meet a second year eagle as he starts a new career greeting and meeting the public.
Moose black bear, and white tailed deer are the three top big game animals in the state. People hunt them, but many more enjoy just watching them. Learn about their natural history first, then how their populations are managed to ensure their continued abundance. What do Dept. wildlife biologists take into consideration when setting hunting seasons? How do political, economic, and cultural considerations weigh in decisions regarding wildlife? Can wildlife actually become a nuisance when there are too many of them?
Take a walk around the beaver pond on this approximately 1 mile loop. Check out wetlands, duck nesting boxes, songbirds, insects; ID trees, flowers and other plants; roll over old logs to look for salamanders, and whatever else we can find to examine along the trail. Make sure to bring your 5 senses!
Learn about barred, great horned and saw whet owls, where to find them in Maine, some of their unique adaptations, the habitats in which they live, and their interesting production of owl pellets! Pellets are regurgitated fur and bone comprised of the birds' last meal. Each tablefull of kids will have the chance to dissect a dried pellet and look for the bones of the mouse the owl last ate! A great subject for studying anatomy and physiology.
Why are we so fascinated by predators? Lynx, mink, wolf, mountain lion, loon, eagle and more are all at the top of their food chains and integral parts of the ecology. What happens when predators are eliminated from a food chain? Can wildlife that has been extirpated from an area be reintroduced? How do humans’ attitudes towards predators influence their ability to survive within a region? Using a variety of mounted specimens, furs and skulls, learn about a variety of predators and their population status in Maine and the northeast.
The coyote, red and gray fox, bobcat, lynx, fisher, marten, raccoon, skunk, short and long-tailed weasel, mink, otter, beaver, muskrat and opossum are all considered furbearers in the state of Maine. Learn about these animals’ natural history, how to determine whether teeth indicate a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore, to identify and study skulls and skins, about their population status and habitat requirements in the state. Become a wildlife detective at the end of the program when each table of students is given a mystery skull and skin to identify.
Using this popular Project WILD Aquatic activity, students will first learn about the benefits and functions of wetland habitats for wildlife and for people, hike around a wetland area, then demonstrate their new knowledge by participating in the hands-on ‘WILD’ activity.
Have you ever found a feather, a bird nest, or a deer antler while out wandering in the woods? Were you aware that some of those items may be illegal for you to posses?? There is a tremendous worldwide black market in wildlife parts and pieces; they are used, mostly illegally, for decorations, jewelry, medicines, or as a part of religion and cultural ceremonies. Come and find out what’s legal for you to keep, and what’s against the law for you to possess. You may be very surprised to learn you are breaking laws enacted to protect wildlife, both in Maine, throughout the US, and the world.
Wild turkeys were once extirpated, or completely eliminated from Maine; but due to efforts of IFW wildlife biologists, turkeys have made a great comeback and number in the thousands in southern and central parts of the state. In some areas, turkeys have rebounded so well they can be a nuisance to farmers, homeowners and others. Learn about this large game bird, its history in the state, and how it has been successfully restored to its original habitats.
Both of these large predators have been extirpated, or eliminated from Maine. In fact. the last of each species was killed by the late 1800s in Maine. For the last several years, however, hundreds of sightings have been reported here; but no verifiable photographs, videos or other evidence has confirmed it. Are they really here? Is there appropriate habitat for them? Could they survive as viable populations? Natural history, current attitudes and wildlife management options will be discussed.
Introduction to Archery
Introduction to ATV Safety
Creatures of the Night
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