, Newburyport, MA


May 31, 2013

A festival for nature lovers

Audubon sanctuary showcases its local wildlife, habitats in family-friendly event this weekend


Sense of touch, and even taste, will be stimulated by the exhibits.

“We want people to feel the texture of these plants, like fiddlehead ferns from the ostrich ferns,” Wolniewicz said. Fiddleheads are ferns of several kinds, at a point early in spring when their fronds are curled up tight, like the head of a violin.

Although there won’t be any cooking demonstrations, fiddleheads are delicious when sauteed with butter and wine, and Wolniewicz will provide that information in labels.

“Culinary seems to be a great way to make a connection with them,” he said. “We’ll put labels on everything, with tidbits of information, to encourage people to experience it for themselves. Anything to invite conversation by visitors.”

Pamphlets will also be provided that show where different types of wetlands can be found in the sanctuary, so visitors can explore on their own, on foot or by canoe.

The nature center exhibits are only one element of the daylong festival, which will also feature a return visit from Eyes on Owls, presented by Marcia and Mark Wilson. Several species of owls will be introduced, in three half-hour shows that will each be followed by sessions where the audience can “meet the owls” close-up.

The Wilsons’ owls have been treated for injuries — usually inflicted by cars — but their voices and regal bearing are intact.

The festival will also include displays on everything from organic farming, fly tying, basket weaving and wool spinning to how to use red worms to make a rich soil additive.

Programs throughout the day will include an introduction to paddle strokes for maneuvering a canoe, pond walks with a naturalist to discover creatures and plants that live in water, and a hike to the rockery, the property’s grotto built from boulders.

The water next to this site is home to a colony of beavers, whose life cycle will be examined.

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