Museum Musings

A Neighborhood Nestwatch Experience

This summer, Fernbank has the opportunity to begin working with the Smithsonian Institution’s Neighborhood Nestwatch program.  This citizen science project is geared to connect bird enthusiasts with actual researchers to gather scientific data related to bird habits and population patterns. Recently, Christine Bean (VP of Education) and I had the opportunity to learn firsthand how the program works, as Chris’ yard has become one of the research sites, along with her next-door-neighbor.

As an educator with a passion for animals and scientific research, I was intrigued to learn more about how the program actually works at the study sites and was not disappointed. The Nestwatch scientist, Alie, began by observing the area and surveying which bird species were present. Then, we helped setup mist nets and a sort of “field command station”. Throughout the few hours we monitored the nets, we caught a handful of birds, which were banded, measured, recorded and released. We also caught a few species that are not currently targeted in the study, so they were released unharmed.

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“It was the first time I’d held a bird—Alie taught me how to hold it so it would be gently yet firmly supported. I was struck by the warmth of this tiny creature, and its strong heartbeat,” Christine Bean

Having a propensity for working hands-on with animals, I was thrilled about the opportunity to help manage the birds through the process and aid in recording their measurements. The birds banded included a Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal and 2 Chickadees. Chris and her neighbor will continue to observe these animals year after year and report their data directly to the Smithsonian Institution.

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Cardinal with “pacifier”

During the experience, one of the most entertaining parts was learning about the different behaviors of each bird species. We learned that Cardinals and Tufted Titmouse are two species that “announce” their frustrations throughout the banding process and that cardinals have the most powerful bites of the 8 targeted species for this study. While the Cardinal was in the process of measurement and banding, Alie offered a twig to pacify the bird and it worked! 

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I couldn’t believe how quickly and efficiently Alie was able to work with the birds, recording their data and going through several steps before releasing them back into the neighborhood. She held the bird in one hand, using the other to write, shuffle through data sheets and measure tail and tarsus lengths. The birds were also weighed, sexed and evaluated for body fat content. Alie’s compassion for these animals was also evident from her gentle and comforting manner, all while explaining the process and answering questions from us. Overall, the experience was incredibly rewarding, as we learned about the birds and the research process and had the opportunity to actually be a part of this scientific study!

Learn more about Neighborhood Nestwatch and find out how YOUR backyard can be involved.

—Lynn Anders, Animal Programs Coordinator

Written by Fernbank Museum at 10:26

Memorial Day 2014

mem-day-image.jpgFernbank Museum will be open during normal daytime business hours over the Memorial Day weekend.

Explore the wonderful world of whales, catch a flick on the biggest screen in town and more. Fernbank educators will also lead guests through a variety of hands-on activities during special drop-in programs offered throughout the weekend. Activities vary. Check the “Today at Fernbank” sign when you arrive for details.

Fernbank Museum’s normal daytime hours are:
Sunday: Noon to 5pm
Monday – Saturday: 10am to 5pm

Purchase advance tickets online or by calling 404.929.6400. As always, parking is FREE.

Please note: Fernbank’s Martinis & IMAX® will not be held Friday, May 23. The event will return Friday, May 30.  

Written by Fernbank Museum at 12:31

Volunteer of the Month: May

Paul BuckholdtWe are pleased to honor Paul Buckholdt as our May Volunteer of the Month.

Paul Buckholdt retired from the U.S. Army in 1969. Since then he has been involved in a variety of interesting projects, including carpentry, electrical work, theatrical photography and computer programming. He is also a Ham, or amateur radio operator, and often spends his time communicating with police for first emergency services during foot and bicycle races. He also uses his radio to connect to other Hams around the globe, including a member of the US Navy stationed in Antarctica.  

An avid rider, you can often find Paul on one of his old BMW motorcycles. He enjoys taking long trips across the country as well as watching motorcycle races.  

Paul is a long-time supporter of Fernbank, having visited routinely since the Museum opened in 1992. In this third year of volunteering, he says the current special exhibition Whales: Giants of the Deep is his favorite so far.

For information on how to become a volunteer, call 404.929.6360 or e-mail volunteer@fernbankmuseum.org.

Written by Fernbank Museum at 13:56

Celebrate Easter and Passover by Visiting Jerusalem

403x403-Jerusalem.jpgDue to popular demand, the captivating giant screen film Jerusalem, presented by National Geographic Entertainment, has been extended through the Easter and Passover holidays at Fernbank’s IMAX® Theatre.

Jerusalem immerses audiences in a spectacular cinematic journey—soaring high above the Holy Land and plunging deep into the vibrant Old City—so they can experience as never before the iconic sites cherished by billions.

Special screenings of Jerusalem will be offered in Fernbank’s IMAX® Theatre Fridays at 7pm and Sundays at 5pm through April 27. IMAX tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, $11 for children 12 and younger, and $8 for museum members.

These special screenings will likely sell out. Advance purchase is highly recommended online or by calling 404.929.6400. 

 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 14:07

Spend Spring Break with Us

Do the kids have warm-weather wiggles to work out? We’ve got the cure! Here are the top 10 reasons to spend spring break at Fernbank Museum.

10. Take a VIP tour. Download the newly updated Fernbank App to guide you through the Museum and discover more in-depth information about exhibitions. It’s like a pocket guide to Fernbank!

9. Grab your baskets. Hop on over for Fernbank’s Dinosaur Egg Hunt (April 12), featuring age-appropriate timed egg hunts, thousands of prize-filled eggs, special activities, and more.

8. Get hands-on. Special hands-on programming will be offered in the Naturalist Center. Activities vary from animal encounters to science explorations and more. Dates and time vary; look for the “Today at Fernbank” sign when you arrive for specific details.

7. Go star gazing. Explore the nighttime sky in The Star Gallery, a unique space featuring 542 twinkling stars.

6. Experience a close encounter of the dinosaur kind. Come face-to-face with the world’s largest dinosaurs, Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus, in the permanent exhibition Giants of the Mesozoic.

5. Explore the great outdoors INDOORS. Fernbank NatureQuest turns kids into explorers, scientists and adventurers through hundreds of hands-on activities, live animal displays and engaging encounters.

4. Treat yourself to an island adventure. Discover an extraordinary world above and below the sea in Journey to the South Pacific, now showing in Fernbank’s IMAX® Theatre.

3. Meet nature’s greatest explorers. The new film Island of Lemurs: Madagascar journeys to a world beyond imagination, filled with strange creatures you will never forget. (Opens April 4)

2. Have a whale of a time. Explore the wonderful world of whales inside-out in the new exhibition Whales: Giants of the Deep.

1. Enjoy FREE Museum admission. Become a Fernbank member and enjoy an entire year of free Museum admission, discounts on IMAX® tickets and more. Family levels start at $120.

Coming Soon

Fernbank’s summer series 97 Day of Play returns in May with an incredible line-up of special programming including Island Adventure Day (May 31), Superhero Day (June 15), Reptile Day (July 12), Dinosaur Birthday Bash (August 23) and more! 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 15:46
Welcome to the official blog of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!

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