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Tue., Jul. 22
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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All About Owls kicks off mid-winter break day camp

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MASSENA - While hundreds of people and thousands of geese, ducks and other birds leave St. Lawrence County each winter to travel south for the winter, St. Lawrence County is actually the destination of choice for one group’s winter getaway.

The snowy owl, one of several owl breeds living in the region, migrate here each winter to escape the brutal cold, of a place with an even worse winter than Northern New York - the North Pole.

That was just one of the things children attending the Friends of the Robert Moses State Park Nature Center’s day camp learned this week.

“You can find anything from a great horned owl to screech owls, barn owls, great gray owls, northern saw-whet owls and of course, snowy owls,” Recreation and Education Specialist Linda M. Besio said.

Referring to snowy owls, she said, “They’re the migraters and come here in the winter. They come from the North Pole.”

Ms. Besio said seven children participated in the day camp’s morning session held at the Hawkins Point Visitor’s Center, with another group of children expected for the afternoon session at the Massena Housing Authority’s community room, just off of state Route 37 in the village.

Following the presentation, children also had the opportunity to dissect an owl pellet and make their very own paper plate owl to take home.

Benjamin Gladding, 9, of Massena, said he found two rodent heads inside his pellet.

“I was expecting to find a lot of bones, but not very many heads,” he said.

Benajmin’s friend, Gavin Benson, 10, also of Massena, said he had no idea what he would find when he broke into his pellet, which actually contained four rodent skulls.

“He was hungry and ate the whole family,” joked Ms. Besio, as she explained the pellets are coughed up by owls after the owls eat a meal and contain the bones of whatever creature the owl dined on that day.

“They’re not owl puke,” she said, dispelling a common misconception about the pellets.

The children also had an opportunity to color and make an owl out of paper plates to take home.

Morning sessions for the camp, which will continue through Friday will be held at the visitor’s center from 10 a.m. to noon, with an afternoon session to follow from 1 to 3 p.m. in the housing authority’s community room.

The free day camp will continue today with a lesson focused on birds and Friday’s lesson will teach children about the New York state mammal, the beaver.

Each day’s program is free and will include a brief lesson followed by a project.

Pre-registration for the programs is suggested, as space is limited, especially for the morning sessions. Parents can register their students by calling 705-5022 and if no one answers Friends Director Mary A. Danboise said she would like to ask people to leave a message. Parents may also sign up their children through the organization’s Facebook page, which can be found by searching for “The Friends of the Robert Moses State Park Nature Center, Inc.”

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