Welcome to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center

Since 1946, we have provided visitors and the greater Mystic community the opportunity to experience nature first hand, whether it be on the more than 10 miles of trails on land owned by the Denison Homestead and Avalonia Land Conservancy, in our natural history museum, our Nature Store, or as part of one of our many programs. The creation of the Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center in 2013 added additional layers of education, history, and ecology to our cultural landscape.

Our mission is to inspire an understanding of the natural world and ourselves as part of it – past, present and future. It is our hope that through DPNC and Coogan Farm that we will help our visitors foster a personal environmental ethic.

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View Our Winter-Spring Newsletter

Meet the Nature Center’s Two New Bird Ambassadors

Kinglsey, Short-eared owl.

Kinsgley, SHORT-EARED OWL Asio flammeus This medium-sized (14-15”) ground nester was once a resident breeding bird in fields and marshes of CT. Because of loss of grassland, wetlands and marshes, coupled with development, Short-eared owls are a symbol of vanishing habitat. This day-flying hunter can travel long distances and chase down rabbits, shrews, bats and even shorebirds and herons.

Each year, hundreds of phone calls and emails reach us with questions on sightings, sounds, or reports of wildlife in distress. These questions are answered and injured animals are cared for or released. Our Federal Migratory Bird Permit allows us to handle and care for injured birds. When a bird is not releasable because of injury, we have the ability through our permit to acquire it for educational purposes. All of our bird ambassadors came to us in this way. In 2017, we worked with more than 30 birds of prey and most were released. We applied for and received permits to keep four additional, non-releasable birds, which include a Red-shouldered hawk, a Barred owl, and two birds new to our permit: a Northern Saw-whet and a Short-eared owl.

Every bird that comes to us has a story. The Saw-whet was spotted on Colonel Ledyard Highway by a father and young girl. At her insistence, the father stopped their vehicle and carefully moved the “baby owl” off the road. The little girl continued, “But daddy, it is hurt, something will kill it. You have to call the Nature Center!” The tiny owl was not a baby and had an injured eye and badly broken wing. After months of healing, it was clear this owl would not fly again. Named “The Little Colonel” or Cleo, this engaging owl melts hearts and has adjusted well to being an ambassador.

A motorist on Shewville Road saw an owl hobbling across the road. Another vehicle ran over it and it tumbled into the grass. DPNC responded to a call from Ledyard Animal Control. What a surprise to find an uncommon winter visitor and the first Short-eared owl we have had in for care. Although mostly unscathed, this was probably not the first car strike the owl experienced. X-rays revealed an old shoulder injury, which would have forced it to scavenge on the ground. Since coming to DPNC, Kingsley has improved and is back to normal 10 oz. weight. While unlikely releasable, he is a playful, personable charmer, has responded well to training and is able to fly and maneuver around his enclosure.

Cleo, Saw-whet owl

Cleo, NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL Aegolius acadius Our smallest owl, barely more than 7” tall and weighing about 3 1/2 ounces, Saw-whets are relatively rare in CT. They are adept flyers capable of rapid, shifting flight. A nocturnal consumer of mice and moths, Saw-whets eat more insects than other owls.


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