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Flying Squirrel Citizen Science at Your Library: Magical Realism or Real Magic?

by Michelle Eberle on 2021-08-27T15:25:40-04:00 | 0 Comments

Photo credit: Shalissa AriasBy C.J. Wong, Librarian at Merrimack College

I’m the librarian everyone calls when there is a critter in the library. Bats are especially good at causing a ruckus as they fly over studying students, but the most exciting rescue mission I ever had was finding a flying squirrel in the kitchen of a library. At last, my two life passions together in one space! The flying squirrel was relatively easy to capture and release outside of the building, but I was never the same. That squirrel, like the others I studied while working on my M.S. degree in biology, scatter-hoarded its way into my heart.  

Recently I decided it was time to mix my passions of flying squirrels and libraries more formally by going back to school to revive my flying squirrel research at the University of New Hampshire. What better way to do this than by getting librarians, STEM educators, and anyone else interested in citizen science involved in this research by putting up and checking a flying squirrel nest box as part of the New England Flying Squirrel Network citizen science nest box project.  

Most people have never seen a flying squirrel primarily because they are nocturnal. This makes seeing one or evidence of one quite magical. Nest boxes are one way to study flying squirrels as they readily take up residency in them. These nest boxes provide flying squirrels with additional cavities for sleeping, nesting, and eating as well as researchers with an opportunity to learn more about their habits. 

Libraries and librarians interested in joining are asked to put up a nest box, check the nest box monthly for signs of flying squirrel activity, and to log their data into an app. Data collected will help us have a better idea of how flying squirrel populations are doing in the area. This activity could work well as part of STEM library programs for children through adults. The project is listed on anecdata and SciStarter, both of which are great places to begin if you are wanting to add citizen science programming to your library’s community engagement.  

Check out these resources to learn more about citizen science projects!

Online Resources

Print Resources

Photo credit: Shalissa Arias

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