Tuesday, February 11, 2020

2020 Night at the Museums

Last Friday, BYU’s seventh annual Night at the Museums event brought over 1,000 visitors to the Bean Museum!

Guests had a blast participating in the Vertebrate Variety Program, taking pictures at our photo booth, getting a hands-on experience with specimens from Utah’s native animal species, and snacking on “mini Cougar tails”—maple bar donuts—after exploring the exhibits. They also participated in the Night at the Museums scavenger hunt, where each of the five museums awarded a sticker to guests who could solve their riddle.

Congratulations to anyone who figured out all five clues and won a water bottle!

If you weren’t able to join us, here’s a chance to see if you can solve the Bean Museum’s riddle. The answer is below the picture!

I’m silent but deadly, and move in the night.
To mice I’m not friendly; I kill and take flight.

lʍo :ɹǝʍsu∀

Brie Hardy, educator

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Winter 2020 Birding with Merrill Webb

Before the sun even rose, patrons gathered with birding expert, Merrill Webb, in the parking lot of the Bean Museum. Rising before the sun was key to see the species we were hoping to spot: Bald Eagles. Our nation's symbol can be seen in Utah during the winter when the eagles fly south from Alaska and Canada to roost. The best viewing time for these rapturous raptors is during the month of February.

Driving out to Palmyra, Utah, the group stopped at a known roosting site, and immediately spotted a subadult Bald Eagle in it’s nest. These hunters leave their nests at sunrise to begin hunting, and we were able to watch this one take off in search of food. Three other eagles were spotted in the area, flying, or occasionally landing in the trees.

Continuing the drive, several different bird species were spotted from the vans, including American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, European Starlings, Black-billed Magpies, and Great-tailed Grackles. Pulling up by the airport, several Northern Flickers were spotted, and a tree full of the gorgeous red-bellied American Robins.

The next spot that was chosen was the shores of Utah lake. Right away, there were many different species of birds all around us. Red-winged Blackbirds flitted about in the trees; Grebes and Coots swam around in the water; and Canada Geese, Mallards, and an American Wigeon called out to each other from every direction. Excitingly, a Great Blue Heron rested directly across from us, about 15 yards away. Once everyone got out to see him, he flew a little further back, but we were still able to capture him in our scopes, binoculars, and cameras.

Moving down the shore, we found a cluster of gulls resting on the ice. We were told that if they have yellow legs, they were Ring-billed Gulls, and if they had pink legs, they were Herring Gulls. After examining all the legs of the birds, one sharp eyed birder was able to spot a single Herring Gull out of dozens of Ring-billed Gulls.

Moving along the lake, we were able to spot more gulls, more Canada Geese and Mallards, a Green-winged Teal, and five more Bald Eagles. Everyone was very excited to see more of the birds we had originally set out to look for, and we stayed watching them until it got too cold to stand it.

Finally, we took a short detour by the new Provo High to try and see some new species, and were able to spot some Song Sparrows and one Northern Harrier, before we headed back to the museum, everyone feeling excited about a morning well spent.

Birds Seen:
Bald Eagle
European Starling
Black-billed Magpie
American Kestrel
Red-tailed Hawk
Great-tailed Grackle
Ring-billed Gull
Northern Flicker
Canada Geese
American Robin
Red-winged Blackbird
Great Blue Heron
American Coot
Pied-billed Grebe
American Wigeon
Herring Gull
Green-winged Teal
Song Sparrow

Northern Harrier

Maren Hatch, educator