AUGUSTA — Nancy Prince reached into her bag, and a haunting wail filled the Children’s Discovery Museum.

“What do you think that is?” she asked the children sitting in front of her. “I’ve had children say it’s an owl. I’ve had them say it’s a wolf. I’ve heard all kinds of things.”

Prince pulled a plush loon from the bag, and it wailed again.

A loon’s “laugh,” or tremolo call, is actually a sign of alarm, Prince said, and the wail is not so mournful as it sounds.

“Loons make this call because they are looking for their family or asking friends to come out and play,” she said. “I call it their friends-and-family call. It’s a happy call.”

Prince read to the children from her book “Libby’s Loons,” illustrated by Luanne Wrenn. It tells the story of a girl’s encounters with loons, inspired by Prince’s own experiences kayaking on Wilson Pond in Wilton.

Brothers Isaac, 4, and Keaton, 6, of Greene, listened attentively; though their mother, Christine Gregoire, said they’re typically more interested in ocean animals than birds.

After the reading, the children painted and cut out loons, dabbing white paint on black construction paper to mimic the birds’ spotted backs.

Prince is devoted to the protection of loons and testified earlier this year in favor of limits on lead fishing gear, which poisons loons that swallow the lures. Prince said her book is part of her conservation work.

“My goal is to have children see our wildlife and advocate for wildlife through the eyes of this child, Libby,” Prince said. “My intention is to promote the welfare of the wildlife that we have all around us.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645[email protected]Twitter: @s_e_mcmillan