Pollinator Power: Bees, Bats, and Butterflies

We are having a Pollinator Party this weekend and you’re invited! Why pollinators? We’re glad you asked:

What is a Pollinator?

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Our Live Animals Department takes a peek at our Hive.

The act of pollination occurs when pollen moves from flower to flower, typically by a pollinator like a bird, bee, bat, butterfly, moth, or through the elements (like wind). The exchange of pollination from one flower to another creates fertilization, which means plants will successfully produce fruits with a full set of viable seeds.

Why are pollinators so important?

Pollinators are responsible for healthy ecosystems and the production of food for many animals. Unfortunately, pollinators have been dying off in droves, which has a ripple effect to which humans are not immune. The clear and present threat to pollinators affects the global economy, commodities trades, food security, and much, much more. It may be a challenge to think that something so small can have such a major impact on our day-to-day lives, but consider this:

  • Worldwide, about 1,000 plants grown for food, drink, fibers, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods that we depend on.
  • One in every three bites of food you eat are directly or indirectly the result of pollination.
  • In the U.S., $40 billion dollars worth of products are created by honey bees each year, which is supremely important for agricultural states, like Ohio.
  • 90 commercially grown crops in America are dependent on animal pollinators.
  • 795 million people don’t have enough food to lead active, healthy lives.

What’s the Buzz About?

Because we have do many pollinators here at the Museum, we wanted to dedicate Super Science Saturday to exploring the impact pollinators have on our world. Be sure to visit us during Super Science Saturday on May 21 to see our pollinators up close; admission is FREE from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Also, you can learn more about how to be a pal to all of our hardworking pollinators by checking out our infographic below:

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5 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day This Friday!

A recurring theme both at the Boonshoft Museum and our sister sites, SunWatch and Fort Ancient, is conservation. We conserve artifacts and specimens, and we teach children and families about our natural resources and how we can best preserve them. On Earth Day, we are all acutely aware of the impact that humanity has on our planet and its inhabitants, some big (like the Polar Bears at the Columbus Zoo) and some small (like Patience, the Boonshoft Museum’s Two-Toed Sloth).

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Two-Toed Sloths just like Patience face habitat loss due to deforestation of the South American rain forests.

It’s easy to be intimidated by the effort requires to slow down the effects of deforestation, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change, but the Museum is committed to making sure that everyone, through small changes, has the ability to make a HUGE, positive impact on our environment–and what better way to kick-off a year of “green” living than by celebrating Earth Day on April 22!

Here are 5 simple things you can do that will have a big impact on our environment:

  1. Actively Educate – By attending events like the Boonshoft Museum’s Earth Day Celebration and Super Science Saturday, your family will learn about our natural resources, like the Miami Valley Aquifer, in addition to how we can use science to conserve, preserve, and sustain our natural resources. Most of our special conservation days are included with regular admission or free to the public, so be sure to check our Calendar frequently for upcoming events!
  2. Be a Good Steward – One of the most critical challenges to the world today is climate change. The change in climate affects the world’s ecosystems and has a ripple effect to which humans are not immune. Climate change affects our food sources and the economy. To be a good steward of the environment, try to save energy in your household. Simply turning the lights off when you leave a room, keeping your house a few degrees warmer during the summer, and unplugging electronics when you leave for school and work can collectively have a large impact on your energy usage and wallet!
  3. Purchase With a Purpose – You can shop smart and help fight deforestation by using sustainable alternatives to products that use Palm Oil and are created with recyclable materials. Palm oil is a key contributor to rain forest deforestation and can be found in common household items and food, like candy and cereal—even makeup. Opt into purchasing certified recycled products and support companies that use sustainable practices. Click here to view a list of companies that are dedicated to saving the environment.
  4. Plant for Pollinators – Between honey bees, bats, and butterflies, millions of dollars worth of crops and food are cultivated each year. With one in every three bites of food being indirectly or directly a result of honey bee pollination, something has to be done about their dwindling populations. Many of our pollinators are at risk due to habitat loss, so the best way to combat that is to create a pollinator-friendly place in your back yard! Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed, a flowering plant that can easily be planted in your back yard. You can also opt for a bat house or plant a bee friendly garden. Some honey bees are often confused with wasps, so if you have a nest that you wish to remove, ask a professional if it is a honey bee hive and if it is contact a local apiarist (beekeeper).
  5. Get Active – If it’s a beautiful day and you need to run errands, consider riding a bike instead of taking your car. Not only does Dayton have some of the best bike trails regionally, biking to work is a green alternative to a car commute and it keeps you healthy! The burning of fossil fuels from motor vehicles creates both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, both of which affect our atmosphere and add to changes in climate.

Just doing these 5 simple things can help save our environment and its inhabitants! Learn more tomorrow during our Earth Day Celebration!

Falcon Chicks Are Here!

Dayton and Daniel’s eggs hatched!  On Sunday afternoon one chick was visible in the nest.  Later Sunday evening a second chick hatched.  If all progresses normally, the chicks will be the same size as their parents within six weeks.  At this link you can see images of how fast the chicks will grow:

http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

During the first 24 hours after hatching the chicks will use energy from the remaining yolk sac that they had while still in the egg.  Within a day the female will begin feeding the chick.  The baby chicks eat the same food as their parents, mostly birds brought to the nest by the male.  The female will tear tiny pieces using her beak and feed them to the chicks.

In this image you can see one of the parents eating a meal just outside the nest box to the right side of the image while the oldest chick sits in the nest box.  Within hours of this meal a second chick hatches.  The chicks are called eyases and, like most babies, they eat a lot.  They will double their weight in only six days!

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In order to hatch from the eggs the chicks used a sharp tip on their beak called a beak tooth to pip out of the shell.  A special muscle also developed while in the egg along the back of the neck that assists the chicks in hatching called the hatching muscle. Some of the egg shells are still visible in the nest with a reddish brown outside and white on the inside of the cracked shell.  This year incubation went a little longer than estimated.  Even though the eggs are laid days apart they typically synchronize to hatch around the same date.  In this image from around 8 p.m. Sunday two chicks peak out from the adult peregrine.  The babies cannot thermoregulate well until about 10 days old so the parents continue to sit on them to keep them warm.

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Updated on 4/20/16 at 10:00 a.m.

Update

Surprise! A new chick was born! There are now three Falcon chicks as of this morning.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Awards, accreditations, and knock outs–the staff at the Boonshoft Museum have been up to a lot this spring and we have some BIG news to share! Check out what we’ve been up to:

Hey, Hey AZA!

If you follow our Facebook or read our Member Magazine, you may have heard about our Live Animals staff and the rigorous re-accreditation process they participated in over the winter. The evaluation process is run by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and receiving such an accreditation means our Discovery Zoo, volunteers, and staff maintain the highest quality programming for our guests and the safest and happiest environment for our animals.

Through constant training, implementing best practices, and focusing on conservation and sustainability, we are happy to announce that we have received accreditation by the AZA through 2020. A HUGE congratulations to all of our Live Animals staff, volunteer animal handlers, and our Discovery Zoo crew! Come celebrate with us on Zoo Lover’s Day, this Friday, April 8. We’ll be doing special public programming with all of our endangered and threatened species and guests will be able to visit all of their favorite animal friends in the Discovery Zoo!

What does it take to become accredited? 

Click on the pictures to learn more.

And The Award Goes To…

The Boonshoft Museum! Each year, we make an appearance at the Ohio Museum Association Awards in some capacity, whether it’s an exemplary staff member who has done amazing work or something new and innovative we are doing at the Museum. This year we are proud to announce that our Graphics Department has won an award for outstanding work in graphic design and marketing. Sarah Aisenbrey, the Museum’s Registrar has also won an honorable mention for “Emerging Museum Professional of the Year”!

As a young professional in the museum field, the award of Honorable Mention for Emerging Professional of the Year from the Ohio Museums Association is a great honor. I am privileged to work in my field of choice and to have the opportunity to do what I love; receiving this award just solidifies my decision to become a museum professional,” said Aisenbrey.

Needless to say, we couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication our staff show to their Departments and to the Museum’s mission as a whole!

One-Two Punch for Charity!

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See Mackenzie at Knockout on April 9!

Dayton’s Original Knockout is back and our resident Paleontologist and Educator, Mackenzie English, has thrown his hat (well, lab goggles) into the ring! After training for weeks with the professionals and Knockout organizers at Drake’s Downtown Gym, Mackenzie will be going a few rounds this Saturday, April 9 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.

Not only will there be multiple bouts representing some of Dayton’s favorite businesses and organizations, there will be drinks, live music, and more! The best part about this boxing expo is that it packs a punch with a purpose; proceeds from this event are split between the Boonshoft Museum and the Parkinson’s Foundation. So, if you want to support two great non-profits and catch some exhibition boxing, be sure to learn more and purchase your tickets here.

 

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Dayton’s Favorite Falcons On Camera Mid-March

Did you know that the fastest animal on earth lives in downtown Dayton? The peregrine falcon is able to fly at speeds over 200mph making it the fastest animal on earth!

As part of the Boonshoft Museum’s efforts to educate the public about local wildlife and promote conservation efforts, we have always hosted the FalconCam, which provides an up close view, from hatching to fledging, of Dayton’s family of peregrine falcons. From the first glimpses of the fluffy white chicks as they pip out of the egg to the drama of their first flights from the 22nd floor of the Liberty Savings Tower we get an insider’s view on the behavior of this fascinating bird. Over the years the Boonshoft FalconCam has allowed the viewers to learn the details of family life that were previously unseen. Watching the mother as she tears a freshly caught bird and puts it into the gaping beak of her young chick gives new meaning to the word “breakfast”. While we enjoy watching the daily activities of the birds this information is being put to scientific use. As soon as the eggs are laid biologists know that the pair is in good health and can get a count on the number of eggs. Over the past 14 years the chicks have been banded so they can be tracked in other regions and blood has been drawn so the genetic health of the population can be evaluated.

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Peregrine falcons were added to the list of federally endangered species in 1970. They became endangered through the use of a pesticide called DDT that thinned the shells of their eggs preventing them from hatching and a dangerous decline in the population. Wildlife biologists have worked hard to increase the number of peregrine falcons and in Ohio the peregrine was removed from the list of state endangered species in 2015. The recovery of the peregrine population has been a success but biologists must continue to carefully monitor the population. The Dayton nest has been selected as one of the Ohio nests that will continue to be monitored. Data collected form the FalconCam includes the continued presence of the pair, the number of eggs laid, the number of eggs that hatch and the number of chicks that fledge. The continued monitoring and data collection from the nest through the FalconCam will contributed to the success of this majestic species in Ohio.

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Falcon Cam sponsored by:

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To learn about the peregrines at other locations in Ohio visit the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s website: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/wildlife-watching/falcon-cam

Dayton’s own peregrine pair, Dayton and Daniel, can be viewed on the Boonshoft FalconCam starting in Mid-March.

If you have questions about the FalconCam? Email us at falcons@boonshoftmuseum.org.

DIY Upcycled Air Canon Project!

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle!

America Recycles Day is this Sunday, November 15 and we want to encourage all of our readers, guests, and friends to make an effort to be a little more “green”. Of course, people have the best of intentions when it comes to recycling, conserving, and reusing, but getting into the groove of being more green can be difficult.

First, here are some need-to-know stats about America’s waste, conservation, and more:

  • The average person produces about 4 pounds of trash a day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste a year.
  • Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage each year and the EPA estimates that 75% of that is recyclable. Yet our rate of recycling is only about 30%.
  • We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year, which is unacceptable, as 48.1 million Americans live in food-insecure homes. If we cut down on food waste and composted, it would reduce the same amount of green house gas as taking 2 million cars off the road.
  • Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod. Recycling 100 cans can power your bedroom through a two day Netflix binge of your favorite show.
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The Maker’s Space at the Boonshoft Museum Springfield is dedicated to upcycling projects of all kinds!

America, we can do better, but where do we start? You can start by having a candid conversation with your family about small, fun ways you can start reducing, reusing, and recycling.

To kick things off, visit our “Celebrate Earth Day With “Green” Family Fun post and then scroll below for an awesome DIY upcycling project from the Museum’s Education Department:

A great way of reducing waste — and in turn aid to your impact on the environment — is to reuse your wasted materials. This is often referred to as “Upcycling” and involves re-purposing your trash items in an effort to find another use for them. Such examples include milk carton planters, aluminum can stoves, and recycled art and sculptures made from trash materials.

Use recycled items to create an air cannon and learn about air pressure!

Upcycled Air Canon

Supplies: 

  • 1 toilet paper tube or plastic bottles with the bottom cut out.
  • Used or leftover balloon
  • Duct Tape
  • Scissors

Instructions:

1) Cut the thin end of a balloon off
2) Stretch the wide end to a tube or the bottle with the end cut off
3) Tape it in place
4) Pull on the back were the balloon is taped as far as you can and let it go.

As you pull back on the balloon you build force. Once you let go, you cause that force to move forward and it takes the air inside the tube/bottle with it. As the force of the balloon forces the air out, it creates a vortex as the air reacts to the force of the balloon snapping back into place.

Spend some time upcycling with your kiddos and then be sure to visit us for some green-themed public programming on Sunday, November 15 for America Recycles Day!

Happy Bat Appreciation Month: Why Pollinators Are Important!

From tales of vampires to being some of the world’s most infamous “blood sucking” creatures of the night, many pollinators (like bats and honeybees) get a bad rap. October 1 officially marks the beginning of Bat Appreciation Month—and we have some Discovery Zoo residents that want you to know a little more about how important they are!

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One of the Discovery Zoo’s Egyptian fruit bats. Aren’t they adorable?

“October might be the spookiest month of the year, but we promise we aren’t scary—we’re helpful!”

Bats are actually really helpful to ecosystems and humans! With more than 1,300 species of bats around the world, they all play a big role in terms of eating pesky agricultural pests, pollinating plants, and ensuring the growth of fruits and veggies that feed people across the world and support local economies.

“We’re not blind, in fact we have better direction than you!”

Bats may live in dark places, but that doesn’t make them blind. Actually, in some cases, bats can see better than humans. People get nervous when they see bats flying around because the notion that, if they are in fact, blind—they might bump into you by accident. False! Bats have incredible sensory abilities, including echolocation, which allows them to use sound waves to locate objects, kind of like sonar.

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Vampire Bat

“Who is Dracula anyway? We’re not the blood suckers you think we are.”

While vampire bats do exists, they aren’t as scary as you think. Vampire bats weigh only two ounces, and average only three inches in length, meaning they are tiny. While it’s true that vampire bats have been known to bite people in Central and South America, they mostly feed on cattle.

Imagine an overgrown mosquito—vampire bats are the same way! They only lick about a spoons worth of blood and can accomplish this task quickly because they have an anti-clotting enzyme in their blood, much like a leech.

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Bat guano

“Even our poo is awesome!”

Bat poop, commonly referred to as “guano”, is a valued fertilizer. When collected responsibly (with no harm made to the bats or their environment), guano can be used by local landowners and communities to enrich their soil. This means better crops, which means more people are fed and local economies thrive.

“Give us a break, we’re helping to put food on your table!”

Bats are both seed dispersers and pollinators, making them integral to the ecosystems they inhabit and the economy. Bats around the world pollinate things from agave and bananas to cloves, carob, and peaches. Fruit-eating bats also disperse seeds to vital places, including cleared out rainforests—where regeneration of plants is vital. You can thank bats for things like avocado, dates, figs, cashews, and much more.

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Keeper Melissa hanging out with one of our batty friends!

As you can tell, the Museum is pretty serious about our pollinators, from our newest exhibit featuring live honeybees to our friends the Egyptian fruit bats. Each of these special creatures plays a vital role in the world and unfortunately, due to dangerous pesticides and climate changes, our pollinator populations are dwindling.

So, next time you see a bee hive think twice about hurting its residents! After all, honeybees are directly responsible for one out of every three bits of food you eat! During the Halloween season when you see a “spooky” bat you can bust some bat myths and tell all your friends how important bats are to the ecosystem.

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The Boonshoft Museum’s Egyptian fruit bat enclosure inside the Discovery Zoo.

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The Museum’s newest pollinator friends, the honeybees, are on display as well.

Be sure to visit our popular pollinators any day of the week in the Mead Westvaco Treehouse and the Discovery Zoo during normal hours of operation!