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 Bird Conservation Through Education TM

October 30, 2013 

In This Issue
Another Look at the Junco
New Bird Specimen Resource
Turkey Fun Facts
Thanks to our BEN Bulletin sponsors:
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The Bird Education Network (BEN) was created following the February 2007 National Gathering, hosted by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE). BEN is a CEE initiative that seeks to connect and support a community of bird education professionals.


Over 4,000 individuals representing 300 organizations receive communications and engage in professional dialogue through the BEN-run Bird Education Listserv. 


A BEN Committee has been established to provide advice and guidance for this important initiative, to advance "bird conservation through education."

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Taking Another Look at the Junco 

by Paul Baicich  
Dark-eyed "Slate-colored" Junco
by Dick Daniels

 At this time of year, different forms of Dark-eyed Juncos return to the eastern United States and to lower elevations out west for the winter. This is just the time for folks to appreciate a video that has been released on the junco, time to take a moment to pause and appreciate this relatively common bird more closely.

The video is from a team of biologists at Indiana University led by Drs. Ellen Ketterson and Jonathan Atwell and film student Steve Burns. The video, Ordinary Extraordinary Junco is available for free viewing on the Junco Project website.  
While it was created with high-school and college science standards in mind, it was also produced in hopes that it might educate and inspire citizens and students of all ages and backgrounds to appreciate science, field research, birds, and natural resources. It is 88 minutes long in eight parts (from 3 to 20 minutes long each). 

The video highlights how biologists study birds in the wild and in controlled environments. The fact that it uses a highly variable bird that even the most casual backyard bird watcher and feeder-watcher can identify makes it especially relevant.
The video was funded by the National Science Foundation and Indiana University, and it is entirely not for profit.  

Each of the eight sections can be enjoyed independently or used as individual teaching modules, but they also flow together as a single feature-length piece, whether one wishes to study diversification, natural selection, breeding biology, or much more.

Fortunately, related educational materials are accessible on the Junco Project website for teachers It is worth watching and worth adapting as a teaching tool.


A Bird Specimen Resource Worth Considering:

Viewing a Modern Image Collection 

by Ildiko Szabo, 
Assistant Curator UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum  
Do you need to add a "CSI element" to your next bird presentation? Might you want to slip in an environmental wellness/wildlife mortality issue in your talk such as rodenticide or lead poisoning? Ever been asked what to look for in documenting bird poisoning? Ever wonder about the true manner of death for birds that hit windows or get oiled feathers? How about clues on differentiating between birds singed by natural gas flares verses electrocution?


These are just the latest--and quirkiest--additions to the informative collection of slides at the University of British Columbia Beaty Museum on the preparation of bird skins and their interpretation.  (Yes, the recent addition of 149 slides on "Determining the Cause of Death" may be creepy to some, but a real insight to others!) 


The 807 PowerPoint slides in this collection are designed to be "shuffled," enabling educators to create their own presentations--or just grab a few slides to complement an existing PowerPoint talk. The available material contains almost everything you may ever want to know about preparing study skins, from the essential to the obscure.

Checking the feet: It may be easy to tell which foot of this juvenile Bald Eagle completed part of an electrical circuit.

The target audience for these slides may well be graduate students working in the field, but the potential audiences--and users--also include bird educators who serve as volunteers and staff at parks, nature centers, wildlife rehabilitation centers, universities, and museums.


The entire collection of slides is available as a free download on the Beaty Museum website. 

Happy Turkey Month!


We couldn't resist some fun turkey facts to kick off November:

  • Wild Turkeys are native to North America, and there are five subspecies: Eastern, Osceola (Florida), Rio Grande, Merriam's, and Gould's. All five live throughout different parts of the continent.
  • Between 5,000 and 6,000 feathers cover the body of an adult turkey.
  • Turkeys can run at speeds up to 25 mph and fly up to 55 mph.
  • Wild Turkey populations have made a dramatic comeback from only 30,000 in the early 1900s to 6.4 million today.


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