Welcome to the Penquis Virtual Nature Center, an online nature center devoted to the
study and enjoyment of nature using non-visual means.  You are in the lobby of the center.  
You can go:

This is the first of a series of online nature centers designed to be enjoyed without the
use of sight.  There will be some visual material presented from time to time, but it will
not be essential to use of the site.

The Penquis Nature Center is in central Maine, north of Bangor and near the line
dividing Penobscot and Piscastaquis Counties, and contains a representation of the
plants and animals found in that region.  

You are now in the lobby of the nature center.  While here you can sign the guestbook. Using the guestbook,
 you can ask qestions,
make comments, and meet other people with similar interests.  Please 
let us know if you have trouble with the guest book. From the lobby you may go to 
the museum where you can study or review
the natural history of the region, including descriptions of the plants and animals likely to
be detected by non-visual means. Or you can go to the nature trails; we hope to keep opening new ones from
time to time.    

Much of the wildlife, such as small rodents and shrews, are not likely to be detected by any
means, so these are mentioned only in passing.  Birds and trees are the most noticeable parts of
the ecosystem at all seasons and are therefore stressed.  
Most birds can be distinguished by sound, at least during spring and summer, and
some are vocal all year long.  Experienced bird watchers use sound as their primary cue in
bird identification.  The National Breeding Bird Survey instructs observers to stop at the
specified location and spend a certain amount of time listing all birds seen and heard.  It is the
experience of most that the majority of birds recorded are heard rather than seen.  For this
reason it is important to learn the songs of any birds in the region of interest.  Therefore, 
center can also be useful to sighted persons as well as to the visually impaired.

Most species of trees within any given region can be identified by touch, smell, and location.  
are very difficult to identify to species in this manner, but they are also difficult to identify
using visual cues.  Experienced foresters often have trouble making some of the finer distinctions.
So if you can't tell if the tree in your yard is a red spruce or a black spruce, don't worry about
it.  It might also start arguments among the experts.

In all the identification questions, don't worry about making mistakes.  The CEO of NHEST has been
studying trees for 30 years and teaching and writing about them for almost as long and has taught courses
in bird identification and still makes mistakes -- lots of them.  Have fun and let us know what
more we can provide.

We have laid out the center generally so that you can use a menu option to return to the place
you just were.  Exceptions are links to the basic NHEST site and to other web resources.  After
accessing these, you will have to use the back function on your browser or reader to return to
where you left from.  Within the center, arrows with a text alternative
 are used for movements from one basic area to another, including
movement to a nature trail. They are also used to indicate returns to the major portions of the
center, so if you get lost in the center itself, search on the word 'pointer'.  We 
have tried to reserve that for the direction indicators.

We hope that the various parts of the center will be easy for you to access.  If they are not,
Let us know!


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NHEST would like to thank the Thomas Maren Foundation for the support that made this nature
center possible.

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Created Feb 8, 2003