Sustainable Living, Owls, Turtles, and What I Learned at Connecting for Change

by Vera Mercurio

On October 24th I attended the Connecting for Change event and I found it to be a very rewarding experience. First of all, I got to sign up for volunteer work which I have been wanting to do for a while now, and I learned a lot more about ways to incorporate sustainability into everyday life, such as making a compost pile and growing your own food. After I got to look around, I got to go to two different workshops. The first was The Live Owl Demonstration. The Eastern Screech Owl named Koko seemed a bit frightened by the crowd but, nonetheless, he was very cool to watch up close. These owls are tiny in size and are actually fairly common in this area. They have bright yellow eyes and a grey tree bark-like pattern. One reason you may have never seen one before is because of how small and camouflaged they are. I learned some facts about owls that I had never known before. Owl’s ears are not parallel to each other like ours.. Instead, one is on one side of the head, and the other is located on the bottom of the other side of the head. I also learned that owls do not smell to find prey. The only bird that uses their sense of smell to hunt is a vulture. Owls also have the best vision of any other bird species. Only one person in the world has ever been killed by a bird of prey, and it was in the 1800’s when medical practices were not nearly as advanced.

The second workshop that I attended was the Live Reptile Demonstration. First, a Madagascar cockroach was passed around. It was roughly the size of my palm. Then we got to touch an Eastern Box turtle, which is another species that is common around here. It turns out that one way to identify if a turtle is male or female is by observing its nails. Male turtles have significantly longer nails then females. A turtles shell is made of Keratin, and if for any reason it were punctured, then the turtle would bleed. Next, we saw an Alligator Snapping Turtle, which we were not allowed to touch because it could have easily bitten off a finger. These turtles are apex predators and can live for over 100 years. I really enjoyed both of the workshops that I attended, and I thought the Connecting for Change event was great this year.

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