Education Program Animals

barred owl © Peter Sutton

These species are only used for educational programs and are not usually on display.

Animal Biographies



At Museum


Screech Owl, red phase 2018 2018 Orphan
Screech Owl, red phase 2010 2017 USFWS research animal
Barred Owl  2008 2008 Orphan
Barn Owl 2007 2007 Orphan
American Kestrel 2010 2011 Orphan
American Kestrel 2017 2017 USFWS research animal
Peregrine Falcon 2011 2012 Permanent wing injury
Broad-winged Hawk 2015 2016 Orphan
Red-tailed Hawk 2004 2004 Orphan
Common Raven 1993 1993 Permanent wing injury
Virginia Opossum 2017 2018 Orphan
Black Rat Snake unknown 2006 Zoo animal (born in captivity?)
Black Rat Snake unknown 2007 Habitat return impossible

Learn More About These Animals...

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 centimeters
Weight: 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

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Wingspan: about 40 inches /100 centimeters                     
Weight: about 1.4 pounds / 630 grams

  • Red-shouldered Hawks are birds of the forest and wooded wetlands. Because of their ability to blend with the trees, most people are unaware of the presence of this species.
  • As the forested areas of Massachusetts have increased, so have the numbers of Red-shouldered Hawks.

Learn more about hawks

Common Raven (Corvus corax)                                                                                               

Wingspan: about 53 inches /133 centimeters                     
Weight: about 2.6 pounds / 1,200 grams

  • Ravens intelligence is very similar to human intelligence. Like us, they manipulate things in order to learn and they are capable of solving multi-step problems. Like us, they communicate by producing sounds and have been observed using sound to identify individuals.
  • Ravens have increased as the forest has increased, growing from a very few recorded nests in the Berkshire mountains to a nesting population scattered across Massachusetts.

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

Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniesis)                                                                              

Length: 42–72 inches /100–180 centimeters                   
Weight: about 2 ½ pounds /1.2 kilograms

  • Black Rat Snakes are the largest snake in Massachusetts, occasionally reaching eight feet long.
  • These snakes are excellent tree climbers and their black skin helps them to blend in with shadows on the trunk and branches.
  • Because they are very rare in Massachusetts, they are listed as “Endangered” in this state.

Learn more about snakes