Education Program Animals


The animals at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum represent some of the species that are native to Massachusetts and give visitors the opportunity to experience the rich variety of life found in this area.

Some of these animals are only used for educational programs and are not usually on display at the Museum. These "Animal Ambassadors" enrich our school programs and ignite the spark of curiosity and wonder for students, inspiring them to learn about and protect the natural world.

Current Animals



At Museum


Eastern Screech Owl (gray morph) 2007 2007 Orphaned
Eastern Screech Owl (brown morph) 2019 2019 Orphaned
Barred Owl (female) 2008 2008 Orphaned
Barn Owl 2007 2007 Orphaned
Great Horned Owl (female) 2011 2011 Orphaned
American Kestrel (female) 2010 2011 Orphaned
American Kestrel (male) 2016 2017 USFWS research animal
Peregrine Falcon (female) 2011 2012 Permanent wing injury
Broad-winged Hawk 2016 2016 Orphaned
Red-tailed Hawk 2004 2004 Orphaned
Saw-whet Owl (female) 2017 2019 Eye injury
Virginia Opossum (female) 2019 2020 Orphaned

Learn More About These Animals...

Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)                                                                                    

Wingspan: about 20 inches /50 centimeters                         Weight: about 6 ounces /180 grams

  • Perhaps the worst-named bird, Screech Owl calls can be described as whinnies, trilling whistles, or a harsh rasp.
  • Screech Owls come in a range of colors, from gray to brown to rusty red.
  • This small owl survives very well in human suburbs.

 Learn more about owls

Barred Owl (Strix varia)                                                                                        

Wingspan: about 42 inches /105 centimeters                      Weight: about 1.6 pounds /720 grams

  • The vertical stripes on the belly of this bird, which look like bars, are what gives this owl its name.
  • Barred Owls prefer to live in forests near wetland habitat such as swamps, reservoirs, and beaver ponds.
  • Of the owls of Massachusetts, this species perhaps has the widest range of food sources: small mammals, birds, frogs, snakes, and even fish.

 Learn more about owls

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)                                                                           

Wingspan: about 22 inches /55 centimeters                         Weight: about 4.1 ounces /117 grams

  • Arguably the most colorful hawk in America, Kestrel males have slate blue wings, cinnamon breasts, and a rusty red tail with a single large black band. Females have striped wings and tails and their breasts are white with brown streaks.
  • Kestrels are one of the few birds that can hover, a useful trick while hunting large fields for small mammals and insects.
  • The population of American Kestrels in Massachusetts has declined to about half of what it was in the 1970’s. The reason for this decline is unclear, and there may be several reasons.

 Learn more about American kestrels

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)                                                                            

Wingspan: about 41 inches /103 centimeters                      Weight: about 1.6 pounds / 720 grams

  • Famous for its ability to hunt other birds, Peregrine Falcons have been accurately measured traveling in power dives at speeds greater than 240 miles per hour.
  • After disappearing from the eastern United States by the middle of the twentieth century, restoration efforts begun in the 1980’s have been very successful. This bird is no longer considered “Endangered” in the United States, and its population continues to grow.

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)

Wingspan: about 34 inches/85 centimetersWeight: about 14 ounces /390 grams

  • The Broad-winged Hawk is one of the most migratory hawks in New England. Nesting as far north as deciduous trees grow in Canada, these birds spend their winters as far south as Bolivia.
  • Each September, thousands of these hawks pour through Massachusetts. Because they migrate mostly during perfect weather conditions, and they follow mountain ranges to take advantage of favorable air currents, observers can possibly see over a thousand of these bird pass overhead in a single day.
  • Because of their small size and forest-dwelling habits, Broad-winged Hawks are seldom noticed during their nesting season.

Learn more about hawks

Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)

Length: 13–37 inches /35–94 centimeters (excluding tail)Weight: 8.2–14 pounds /3.7–6.4 kilograms

  • North America's only member of the ancient group of animals called marsupials, or animals with pouches.
  • They're able climbers and often use their flexible tails for balance or to hold nesting material when climbing.
  • While once non-existent in New England, opossums are abundant in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. 

Learn more about opossums