Nature Experienceship - Winter Birds with Merrill Webb

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
It is 6:58am on Saturday the 23rd of January. It is dark and cold. Sleepy junior high students roll out of their parents cars with breakfast in hand. A college student and local adult show up, interested to learn about birds. "Alright we got to head out, the bald eagles leave their roosts around 7:30" said our local bird expert, Dr. Merrill Webb. We all piled into a 12 passenger van and drove down I-15 to Spanish Fork and took the exit taking us west toward Utah lake and the farming communities out there. The junior high kids dozed and sat in silence. The educators and college student and other adult hummed with excitement about what they might be seeing. The morning light began to increase and then off to the left in a large, bare, cottonwood tree was a bald eagle roosting. "There, out there! Do you see it!?" exclaimed Dr. Webb. Faces pressed to the windows and brakes slammed as we pulled to a parking spot. "Let me get out first and set up the tripod and get the scope on it and then come out, okay?" Dr. Webb cautiously stepped out of the van and got his tripod and scope. When he had it set in the scope he invited the new birders to come and take a look. The mornig sky began to glow with the rising sun behind the Wasatch mountains. After just a few minutes the eagle took off and displayed that large (up to 7.5 foot) wingspan. Dr. Webb put away the tripod and scope and we piled back into the van. There was more energy and excitement now tha we spotted what we came out there for. Educators began helping the new birders identify common birds and non native birds like european starlings and eurasian collard doves. We saw american kestrels, on of the smallest species of raptors, or birds of prey. One was out kiteing, which means they flap their wings very quickly allowing them to temporarily hover as they scan the ground for a meal. 

Winter in Utah is a time where there are generally less species of birds to be seen, but many birds stop in Utah as they migrate. Eagles are an example, they follow the large flocks of migrating waterfowl. That was our next target. We drove the vans to Salem pond and saw some winter visitors like ring neck ducks, gaddawals, ruddy ducks,  northern shovelers and american widgeons. Ducks can migrate hundreds of miles and fly at high speeds, some around 60 mph! An eagle was also lurking in a tree by the pond, likely waiitng for an opportunity to grab a meal like a canada goose. 
The next stop was at the east bay golf course, where in a thicket of trees was a family of black crested night herons, a parent and two yearling juviniles. Night herons work togther as parents like many ther bird species. Their thicket was surrounded by a large water feature at the course and there were hundreds of northern shovelers and a few other species.  
We then returned to the Monte L. Bean Life Science museum, hopefully with a new appreciation for our feathered friends we frequently see around us. In total our birding nature experienceship resulted in 31 different species of birds observed. 

Colton, museum Educator

Species seen on 1/23/16:

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-talked Hawk
American Kestrel
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collard-Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Black-billed Magpie
Common Raven
European Starling
Red-winged Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
House Sparrow

Discovery Drawing - New Program!!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Most people use their hands and fingers to draw their Thanksgiving turkey year after year, but attendees to the museum's "Discovery Drawing" used an actual turkey and stepped up their game! During this month's workshop we focused on the basic shapes in all types of birds and how they relate to each other, essentially breaking down the birds shapes in order to make them easier to draw. Although a turkeys waddle is a little far out of the basic shape spectrum, everyone did a great job. Don't miss out on this years final day of discovery drawing! December 12 from 2 to 3 pm in the museum. in the new year discovery drawing will find a new home every 2nd Saturday of the month from 2-3! Don't miss out! See you there!

Nathan, museum educator

Date Night - CLUE

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
One by one couples arrived outside of the museum. Anxiously peering in through the glass doors they chatted with each other, likely about the evening they were about to be a part of. Finally, a man whose garb was indicative of a butler opened the double doors. Each couple was welcomed to Mr. Bean’s party and escorted to the dining area where they were seated. Each table enjoyed a schmorgesborg of food while getting to know those who were seated around them. While carrying on their own conversations they could not help but notice some strange individuals who were having conversations of their own. These peculiar individuals began to introduce themselves to the couples. Mr. Green, Ms. Peacock, Col. Mustard and Mrs. White were just a few of the strange guests that were in attendance. It became clear that these individuals had a lot of opinions about each other and the still absent Mr. Bean. Before one could question these observations the Butler made a startling announcement that Mr. Bean had been murdered. All of the guests were taken downstairs to the auditorium where the rules of solving the mystery were explained. In no time at all they began returning upstairs, to the scene of the crime. Solving riddles, talking to characters and hurrying from room to room each couple wanted to make sure the murder was solved quickly, and by them. Many couples came close to discovering Professor Plum’s patio secret and her suspicious love for poison sumac but only one couple was victorious. Following the evening of food, mystery and fun couples took photos with the Bean Museums photo backdrop. Some of them even took photographs with the characters. Whether the couple solved the mystery or they did not almost all of those in attendance would agree that it was an unforgettable night.

Rachel AKA Ms. Scarlet, Museum Educator

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