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Popcorn power

  • 20090924-135702-pic-314572030.jpg
    Kyle Collins of Lehighton admires a kestrel at the Hawk Fest.
Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

Live raptors from the Carbon County Environmental Education Center and reptiles provided by Michal and Clare Kubik, were on hand for a Hawk Fest held at Bake Oven Knob last Sunday.

The educational and entertaining event is sponsored annually by the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

New this year was a display about fuel efficiency with hummingbirds that fly 600 miles during their migration traveling across the Gulf of Mexico.

The amount of energy they expend compared to humans and a car traveling the same 600 miles was spelled out with bags of popcorn that were given to visitors.

A hummingbird doubles its weight to 4 1/2 grams before it begins the long flight. When it arrives at its wintering grounds it weighs only 2 1/2 grams. Two grams of fat have been used the equivalent of 18 calories or one-quarter cup of popcorn.

A human would burn 50,000 calories to travel the same distance. The 50,000 calories is the equivalent of 781 cups of popcorn.

The car needs the equivalent of 11,800 cups of popcorn or 755,280 calories.

A poster displaying the comparisons was made by the Nature Center.

There was only one restriction on accepting the plastic bags of popcorn reuse the bags don't drop them along the trail.

The Kubiks brought turtles and turtle shells. One turtle had a shell showing where someone had tried to pry the shell off, but it is an integral part of the body with the spine running up the inside of the shell. It could not be released when it was found because it could no longer close its shell completely for protection.

Youngsters, and some adults too, had the opportunity to hold snakes, especially the colorful corn snake. Small salamanders had to be kept out of the sun so they would not dry out and the turtles were moved out to be in the sun where they enjoyed the warmth.

The environmental center had samples of stuffed hawks in addition to the live kestrel and Red-tailed hawk. Director Sue Gallagher said the birds had been killed in car crashes and were stuffed with cotton for display.

Also displayed were a raven's wing that was 18 inches long and cutouts of some raptors to show how they change color as they age.

Education is key at the Nature Center and a new education center, now under construction, should be under roof before winter.

Programs are presented by volunteers (citizen scientists), not by trained professionals. At times, those volunteers are members of the Naturalist's Club for youth which does real research. This can include collecting bees which are forwarded to a government agency for study, or tagging monarch butterflies before their migration.

Each fall, the center counts raptors at Bake Oven Knob which is along their migration route on the Kittatinny Ridge. An intern comes for the counting season to fill in when members are at work.

During Hawk Fest, Bob Hoopes gave hawk talks at the lookout. Victors were hoping that hawks would fly close enough to be seen and identified.

Books on birding in a 13-county region and on identifying trees and wildlife were offered without charge. They are also available at the Lehigh Gap office.

There are photographs showing the restoration of the mountain from a "moonscape" to the green of grass in which trees had been planted. This year wildflowers were added. With the restoration of habitat, animals return to the area.

On the East Penn Township end of the center, ponds provide a different type of habitat. The variety is a help in the educational programs.

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