Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kalamazoo Nature Center

During our one day fall break (wouldn't mind a little more time!), the kids, their cousins and I visited Woodlawn Nature Center in Elkhart and Kalamazoo Nature Center in Kalamazoo. We are members at both places, but haven't been back to Kalamazoo since we purchased the membership. We really enjoyed it and wish we went more often. As we arrived, the attendant at the gate house made a great joke about gulls (our last name). Why don't seagulls fly in the bay? Because then they would be bagels!

KNC is really an interesting set up. Visitors walk down steps and a long walkway through the woods to enter the building. Of course, they needed to check out the spotting scopes while passing by. While their first stop was visiting the shop (they've been asking about it for ages), we also saw this quote. Truly, the exhibits helped us understand that perspective of an insect. We were here in January this year. Learn more of our visit here and check out some of the neat things they have to offer. I also took a  Winter Wildflower hike and was impressed with their education staff--top notch!

This huge nest  helped them learn more about birds, eggs, and how the birds live. I think there might have been an interactive screen there, capturing the kids' attention--combining technology and nature!

They also explored a display on birds nests.

This log showed how many birds are cavity dwellers and others help encourage these cavities by their pecking. 

They had interactive cards out to learn more about the birds, nests, and habits to match with the numbered items in the cases.

This gigantic display of plants showed the progression over varying months of what plants might be up at that time of the year. There was also a scent station where you could smell some of the plants displayed. 


The children could hold the whole world in their hands! It turns, just like earth does, which is mind boggling at times! 

Another room was full of snakes (in cages), with several shedding their skin, art areas, a gigantic microscope, games, etc. I love the size of this table for the blocks. 

The kids are really into games these days!

This area had several stuffed animals, furs, bones, skulls, etc. to explore. They seem to change it out each season. 

He figured out how to work it on his own--I didn't get it!

Inside the "dome" there is a tropical area. At this point, I had a child reluctant to carry on with us and the nearby attendant gave us a challenge as incentive. While the birds and plants are really neat, they also have this hanging display/artwork of raindrops. One is upside down! They took the challenge and eventually found it. 

Downstairs, we looked at the birds, though a couple were visiting classes. There were dead mice in the cages for food, so we had a lively conversation about what birds of prey eat.

In the insect sections, we could learn more about the tools to study insects. There is a clear bee hive so you can see the bee activity, but I think they weren't doing so hot at this time of year. The kids enjoyed doing the bee "dance"--this was a nice touch to make this more interactive. 

A kitchen was set up to share all about the interesting pests (insects) that share space with us in the kitchen.

We also learned more about insects, like mosquitoes, in a nearby display. They liked this jumping challenge as well, but, alas, I can't remember why they jumped. I'll have to ask them later what it was for.

Outside, there are more birds to see, like this Great Horned Owl. There is a nearby manmade "creek" (or at least "helped"--it seemed to have a plastic liner and a good rock sculpture along the sides) the children enjoyed exploring.

There are several nearby trails. We took the closest one and practiced some balancing.

There are wetlands nearby, so we checked out the insects in and near the water, as well as all the falling leaves.

A tree was uprooted nearby. My son found it and needed to show me something "interesting"! We examined the root structures, various holes we found, and more. Of course, sticks became some of the tools we needed to use to investigate. At one point, I think the nephew even had a "cross bow", as sticks serve so many purposes. 

Off we went to different adventures. We visited their brand new natural playground next. Read about our adventures here.