When we arrived, the girls very much enjoyed playing in the playroom. Baby Anne found a tiny rocking chair that she enjoyed climbing into over and over again. All the girls enjoyed the giant drum and the playhouse. Baby Anne kept crawling into the door of the playhouse and then attempting to go out the window. We could not convince her to turn around and go out the door. While the girls were playing, I checked to see if there were any openings in the flying squirrel program. Happily there were.
The program began with some facts about flying squirrels. For example, here in Arlington there are as many flying squirrels as there are gray squirrels (and there are lots and lots of gray squirrels). We don't see the flying squirrels because they are nocturnal and they prefer to be gliding high up in the trees, rather than playing on the ground. To our surprise, the naturalist then pulled out a real flying squirrel who lives at the nature center. He was tame enough to allow us to pet him as she held him.
Following this introduction to the semi-tame flying squirrel, we headed into the dark, cold, snowy night to spot some wild flying squirrels. The nature center has several flying squirrel boxes attached up in the trees throughout its wooded property. One is just outside the building itself and that's where we congregated. As soon as the naturalist shined her flashlight on the box, a flying squirrel could be seen peeking out of the little hole in the box. The naturalist then spread peanut butter on the tree above the box. Almost immediately, the flying squirrel came running out of the box to eat the peanut butter. Repeatedly, he would get a bite, run back to the box, finish the bite and return for more.
If you are wondering why this outdoor adventure happened in winter. The naturalist explained that, first, since flying squirrels are nocturnal, they had to schedule the event when it was dark before everyone's bedtime. Secondly, during the summer, flying squirrels tend to stay close to their own trees to care for their babies, so it is much harder to spot them in summer. That leaves a cold, winter night adventure that reminded me a little bit of Owl Moon.