Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nature Experienceship - Birding on Antelope Island with Merrill Webb

Getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday never seems like a good idea.  However, when you're getting up at the crack of dawn to go on a birding adventure, suddenly it's not all bad.  

Saturday, September 12 a group of lucky bird-watchers got the chance to go out with Merrill Webb, one of the state's top bird experts.  With almost 40 years of birding experience, he certainly knows his stuff!

We drove out to Antelope Island, just north of Salt Lake City, for this birding endeavor.  When we got there we were not disappointed with what we saw!  40 different species of bird!

Birds sighted:
1. Northern Shoveler
2. Chukar
3. Ring-necked Pheasant
4. Eared Grebe
5. American White Pelican
6. Turkey Vulture
7. Northern Harrier
8. Cooper's Hawk
9. American Kestral
10. American Coot
11. Killdeer
12. Black-necked Stilt
13. American Avocet
14. Long-billed Curlew
15. Red-necked Phalarope
16. Franklin's Gull
17. Ring-billed Gull
18. California Gull
19. Mourning Dove
20. Great Horned Owl
21. Burrowing Owl
22. Common Nighthawk
23. Downy Woodpecker
24. Norther Flicker
25. Western Wood-Pewee
26. Plumbeous Vireo
27. Black-billed Magpie
28. Common Raven
29. Barn Swallow
30. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
31. Townsend's Solitaire
32. Hermit Thrush
33. American Robin
34. Sage Thrasher
35. European Starling
36. Yellow-rumped Warbler
37. White-throated Sparrow
38. Red-winged Blackbird
39. Western Meadowlark
40. Yellow-headed Blackbird

Seriously!  We were so lucky!  Birds are amazing, and having the opportunity to adventure with Merrill Webb was incredible!

Thanks to everyone who came and especially to Mr. Webb!  

For those that didn't, there is always next year!

Heather, museum educator

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wildlife Adventures - "Cave Crawlers" (Week 5)

To trogloxenes who this may concern:

Tuesday: This day we dedicated to preparing us for the awesome journey to middle earth. We learned about what lives in a cave, how the creatures are adapted to live (for example a Blindfish has to little to no eyes - literally - and has a head extra sensitive to vibrations so that the fish can navigate the black cave waters), we played Marco-Polo bat style with bats blindfolded and listening to the "eek" of their insect prey, and we found out that humans are trogloxenes (or "cave guests" we may use it as a home or to visit but not permanently). After our detailed preparation, we all readied ourselves for the field test.

Thursday: With nothing less than ecstatic excitement we made our first move at 11am. We piled in our vans, buckled up, and arrived safely to the foot of our climb. All 23 of us made the arduous, but worthwhile, journey up to Timpanogos Cave. It was amazing! Some of our favorites were the "cave bacon" (long, thin strips of calcite that forms from water running repeatedly over the same spot and it looks deliciously like bacon), stalactites and stalagmites, and thousands of tiny formations that look like curly fries covering an entire cavern. The uphill battle was well worth the amazing look into the mountain's brains (there were some crazy formations that could be compared to the inner workings of the human brain...or maybe the digestive system, it's debatable). We made our journey down happily and grateful to have seen such an amazing site. 

Mary, museum educator


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wildlife Adventures - "Feathered Friends" (Week 4)

This week for Wildlife Adventures we had a great time learning about our Feathered and (mostly) Flying Friends! Birds! We had a great time as we explored the world of all things Feathered and Winged both in the Bean Museum and at Tracy Aviary. On Tuesday we were able to make the first of our new feathered friends as we met Festus, a pearl cockatiel from Australia. We had a great time interacting with Festus and even giving him a snack as we learned the basics of bird biology. Another definite highlight was exploring the museum's bird collection using "Identify Me" an application developed for just such a task. "Identify Me" allows school groups, families, scout troops, and anyone else interested in all squawking, cooing, screeching and/or whooing things to identify bird species throughout the museum using a QR code system, simple questions, an Ipad borrowed from the museum's front desk at no charge and/or your own mobile device. We were able to learn about bird anatomy, coloring, beak shape/functions and a whole lot more. 

Whats more, we met a few more feathered friends on Thursday as we visited Tracy Aviary and put our recently acquired bird identification skills to the test! We saw birds from all across the planet, including Andy, an Andean Condor with a wingspan of 10 feet whom we followed as he hopped, waddled, and dare I say it, swaggered through the aviary on his daily walk. He may not live on Sesame Street but he was definitely a BIG bird!  Now, if you as a simple ground dwelling mammal just like all of us, are still wondering what you can do to make up for lack of avian experience and knowledge, there is hope yet! Use "Identify Me" the next time you visit the museum and feel free to bring the whole flock! For the best feather covered adventure around! See you then! 

Nathan, museum educator

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wildlife Adventures - "The Bees Knees" (Week 3)

Last week’s ‘Wildlife Adventure’ we learned all about bees and the important roles that they play in the world around us! Tuesday’s adventure was centered mostly on learning all that we could about bees while here at the museum. We learned the different types of bees, the importance of bees and how they communicate with one another. We were also able to discuss how insects (like bees) differ from other animals and all of the kids were even able to meet the museum’s very own tarantula, Tara! Though there was a lot to be learned, we were sure to leave plenty of time for fun and games as well. Between the “bee scavenger hunt” (in which the kids searched to find tiny paper bees hidden all throughout the museum) and the “waggle dance game” (in which the kids formed “colonies” and attempted to communicate with each other by preforming their very own “waggle dances”) Tuesday’s adventure was definitely a blast!

On Thursday we took a field trip to learn about bees from an expert! It was a beautiful, sunny day-perfect for beekeeping! Stan Moulton comes from a long line of beekeepers and he was able to show us the entire process of making honey. The kids were able to harvest the honeycomb (while wearing their very own protective beekeeping suits), divide the honey from the wax, spin the honeycomb in a centrifuge (to extract the honey) and even sample the honey when it was ready! Yum!
Upset that you missed out on this buzz-worthy adventure? Don’t fret, we still have space left in next week’s ‘Feathered Friends’ adventure in which will be learning all about birds! Don’t miss out!

Cori, Museum Educator