Early Birds’ Reward

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on September 25th, 2013

Although Birds in Art opening weekend festivities are behind us, Museum staff are still relishing the final email exchanges with artists and guests who, like us, are returning to daily routines. Last year, around this time, I joked I had completed my official hazing at the Museum – having made it through Birds in Art planning and the long hours associated with the opening weekend and subsequent volunteer trainings.  This time around I felt better prepared, less intimidated, and able to enjoy the company of artists and guests more fully.

One of my personal highlights was a Sunday morning birding trip to the George W. Mead Wildlife Area with a group of twenty artists, curator of exhibitions Andy McGivern, and his wife, Jeana. Accompanying the group were our gracious hosts and local birding experts: Doug Aziz, Dan Belter, and Susan Ford-Hoffert. These three made quite the team – offering our gang of early risers homemade scones, coffee, and a great introduction to the Mead upon our 6 am arrival, not to mention assistance spotting and identifying numerous bird species during our tour.

Last year, I relied on Swedish artist Peter Elfman to confirm my list of birds. This year, I sat back and let first-time Birds in Art artist George Bumann compile our list of thirty-eight species. Thanks, George! Our list includes:

mourning dove
sandhill cranes

red-winged blackbird
Canada goose
American goldfinch
wood duck
cedar waxwing
pied-billed grebe
marsh wren
blue-winged teal
double-crested cormorant
American crow
northern harrier

The northern harrier was my favorite bird to observe that morning.

pileated woodpecker
common snipe
bald eagle
common grackle
green heron
white-breasted nuthatch
downey woodpecker
belted kingfisher
sora rail * The same species spotted on last year’s trip inspired Elfman’s 2013 exhibition submission.

Peter Elfman, Balance, 2012 (sora rail)

warbling vireo
hairy woodpecker
black-capped chickadee
great blue Heron
barn swallow
rose-breasted grosbeak
common yellow throat
blue jay
black-throated green warbler
Nashville warbler
wild turkey
turkey vulture
European starling
red-tailed hawk

Paul Rhymer, Meep Meep, 2011 (greater roadrunner)

While the trip to the Mead was a great opportunity for me to bond with incredibly talented Birds in Art artists, I still have one major bonding session on the horizon with sculptor and taxidermist Paul Rhymer, who will be in residence at the Museum from Monday, October 21, through Sunday, October 27. There’s still time to sign up for Rhymer’s fantastic programs and workshops; for more information call the Museum to register or speak to an educator at 715.845.7010.

P.S. Thanks to Jenny Hyde-Johnson and Andy McGivern for sharing their Mead images for this blog.

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