Progress on the Museum entrance way: rock on!

Rocks, dirt, big tools, and a more stable stream bed
What’s going on? Lots! Click for a close-up.

During the past week, we’ve watched a good bit of earthmoving, repairing and preparing the stream, its slopes, and the stream bed between the Museum parking lot and the Museum entrance. The preparation will permit us to install an ADA-compliant and future-flood-resistant path and bridge,  as well as a riparian slope “garden”. While this is going on, please use the rear entrance (facing the road). We look forward to seeing you!

This collage of photos was created by Elizabeth Spinney, copyright © 2015 and used by permission.

This work is being funded by donors like you, the Vermont Department of Transportation though a Vermont Better Back Roads grant, and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Ecosystems Restoration Program.  These are both matching grants so we still need your help to fully fund these grants.  Donate to help! We happily accept donations online through JustGive, NetworkForGood, and PayPal. You can also call (802) 434-2167 with your credit card info, or send a check in any amount at any time to

Birds of Vermont Museum
900 Sherman Hollow Road
Huntington, Vermont 05462
 

Thank you to Grover Engineering, the State of Vermont (VTRANS and DEC), and John Scott Excavating. Let us thank you!

Bridges to Birds: where we’ve been

How it All Began in July 2013: Flash flooding at the Museum
Plus photos.
Last Year’s Update: Bridges to Birds: Connecting to People
And the Treehouse phase: A New Point of View (from our Treehouse)
A booklet about it: Bridges to Birds (1Mb PDF)
How We Thank You: Recognition, Gifts, and Adventure
All four phases, outlined: A Four-fold Project

And the collected posts (tagged “Bridges to Birds”)

 

Pollinator Habitat Demonstration Gardens: Groundwork!

Guest Post by Anne Dannenburg

The Birds of Vermont Museum and the Huntington Historical and Community Trust are collaborating on developing Pollinator Habitat Demonstration Gardens. This project is an effective partnership between Huntington’s two non-profit organizations whose missions include enhancement of rural landscapes for wildlife as well as community outreach and education.

Over the period of 2 – 3 years, the gardens will be created on the Birds of Vermont Museum property. The Huntington Historical and Community Trust received a $1500 grant from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, providing start-up funds for garden establishment and the initial educational materials.

The project will rely on volunteers for much of the work including turf removal, soil preparation and planting… so, we need your help! If you can lend a hand, please contact either of the Pollinator Gardens co-directors: Erin Talmage (Birds of Vermont Museum) at 802 434-2167 and Anne Dannenberg (Huntington Historical and Community Trust) 802 434-3901.

Stop in and see the project progress. [Anne has been working incredibly hard! –KJT, ed.] The Museum is open daily through the month of October, and by appointment through the winter. Our trails are open from sunrise to sunset year-round.

The Four Phases of Bridges to Birds

B2B-Banner

Bridges to Birds incorporates disaster recovery, resilience, and prior long-term plans to make outdoor experiences at the Museum accessible to all visitors, including people with limited abilities and families with small children. This four-phase project also expands conservation and educational opportunities and increases the number of locations available for quiet appreciation and contemplation of the natural world.

Connecting to People:
Bridge and Walkway

$104,000
(still need $56,500)

This phase means

* New wildlife observation areas
* Fully ADA-compliant access from parking to Museum
* Protected riparian areas and stream bank stabilization
* Publicly visible donor acknowledgments
* Improved bird habitat
* Resistance to future flooding and precipitation events

We are working with the State of Vermont, the Town of Huntington, and civil, structural, and hydrological engineers to design and build a bridge and walkway after installation of a larger culvert under the road. Interpretive signs, plantings, and welcome information will follow.

Connecting to Nature:
Interpretative Trails

$17,000
(still need $9,000)

This phase provides

* Outdoor exploration
* Citizen scientist access
* Routes for monitoring and birding walks
* Integration with and protection of woodland, meadow, and near-pond habitats
* Peaceful retreats
* Well-maintained trails

Volunteers, staff, and interns repair trails, footbridges, and handrails. We continue to work routing water away from trails, and providing sturdy footing where needed. New maps, signage, and guide materials will be created.

Connecting to New Perspectives:
The Treehouse

$30,000
(still need $2,500)

This phase showcases

* An accessible (ADA-compliant) treehouse, reached by a gravel ramp
* Opportunites to observe birds in the forest canopy
* An outdoor classroom /exhibit space
* New nature-focused programs and activities

The treehouse is already open! We completed the construction thanks to a generous partnership with Center for Technology Essex, Evergreen Roofing, and dozens of volunteers. A grant from the Vermont Community Foundation helped with treehouse-specific programming. The last donations will fund educational signage and seating.

Connecting to Conservation:
Bird-friendly Gardens

$6,000
(still need $2,000)

This phase includes
* Demonstration gardens
* Native plants
* Quiet contemplation spaces
* Habitat and foraging diversity for native birds
* Inspiring and encouraging Vermont gardeners and would-be gardeners

The Gardens phase integrates previous work by staff, interns, and gardeners on local, bird-friendly plantings, garden layout, and native species. Garden beds, paths, booklets, informative signs, and short education tours all extend the experience.

 

Bridges to Birds: where we’ve been

How it All Began in July 2013: Flash flooding at the Museum
Plus photos.
Last Year’s Update: Bridges to Birds: Connecting to People
More about the Treehouse: A New Point of View (from our Treehouse)
A booklet about it: Bridges to Birds (1Mb PDF)
And the collected posts (tagged “Bridges to Birds”)

Donate to help! We happily accept donations online through JustGive, NetworkForGood, and PayPal. You can also call (802) 434-2167 with your credit card info, or send a check in any amount at any time to

Birds of Vermont Museum
900 Sherman Hollow Road
Huntington, Vermont 05462

“Birds of a Fiber”: Deadline this weekend

Do you create with fibers? Do you have a thing for birds, science, or conservation? We do too and we hope you’ve sent us something for our show!

This is just a last-call/reminder: Deadline is Sunday, March 1.

We are so looking forward to reviewing all the submissions in the next couple of weeks!

Submission details in our Call to Artists post: https://bovm.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/birds-of-a-fiber-call-to-artists-from-the-birds-of-vermont-museum/

Another quick image search for fiber birds

“Birds of a Fiber”: Call to Artists from the Birds of Vermont Museum

Do you create with fibers? Do you have a thing for birds, science, or conservation? We do too. Please consider sharing your artistic and craft skills with us and our visitors!

The Birds of Vermont Museum seeks both art and craft for our 2015 season Art Exhibit, “Birds of a Fiber”. The show runs from May 1 to October 31 in the Museum’s multi-purpose room, halls, and foyer. Art should speak to or about birds and conservation. Our goal is to show a wide yet harmonious variety of work and media.

We seek fiber-based submissions from art trading card size to double-bed quilts, from felting to weaving to collage to…. Most art will be hung on the walls. We have shelf space for three-dimensional works and some ceiling space if your work is suitable there. Feel free to visit and scope out the options.

A few Birds of a Fiber from a google search. Let these inspire!
A few Birds of a Fiber from a google search. Let these inspire

You may submit up to 3 works, by sending not more than three (3) .jpgs showing your work to museum@birdsofvermont.org ; please put “Submission for Birds of a Fiber” in the email subject. If you do not have email, you may send up to three prints to the Museum, attention Birds of a Fiber. Please include your contact information and a description of fibers/media, size, and weight. Entries are due by March 1, 2015.

Museum staff will select pieces by March 21 and will let artists know by email if possible. We are looking to showcase diverse interpretations from both new and returning artists. The Museum asks for permission to reproduce images of the selected works in print and online as part of publicity for the exhibit; if you prefer partial or cropped images for this, or have preferred images, please tell us or supply those.

Selected pieces should arrive at the Museum during the first weeks of April and be ready to hang (if applicable). Artists are responsible for shipping, or drop-off/pick-up. Pick-up should occur by November 30, 2015.

Artists who show their work here are invited to sell originals, prints, and/or cards through us (on consignment). We often arrange artist workshops at the Museum as well.

Please call or email Kir Talmage or Allison Gergely with any questions. We can be reached at 802 434-2167 or museum@birdsofvermont.org. We look forward to seeing your work!

The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 8: My Dead Arm)

Guest post by Kari Jo Spear, Photographer, Novelist, and Daughter of Bob Spear
This post appeared first in our late summer 2014 issue of
Chip Notes.

My arm was killing me. Every muscle burned, my fingers cramped, and my shoulder barely fit in its socket any longer. In other words, I was in agony, and it was all my father’s fault. I was furious with those stupid birds of his and his stupid idea about carving every freaking bird that had ever been stupid enough to set its freaking feathers in Vermont. And I was mostly mad about his stupid idea to rebuild the barn on the old foundation next to Gale’s house and keep his stupid birds in there.

I was going to be maimed for life because of this! I was never going to be able to use my right arm again. My fingers were ice cold and I could barely feel them, much less move them. Any doctor would agree this was child abuse. I should be put into foster care and live in a nice, normal apartment in a city and never have to look at another bird again as long as I lived!

And not only that, my hand was sticky, and I hated that more than anything.

But I forced my smile back on. “And what would you like?” I asked a sweet little girl standing in front of me.

“Chocolate, please,” she said with an eager light in her eyes.

“Chocolate it is, then,” I said, and bent over the cooler again, trying to hide my pain.

I had been scooping ice cream for three hours. It had seemed like a really good idea at first. My father was hosting his first open house. It had been advertised all across the media. His “project,” now officially called the Birds of Vermont Museum, was open for visitors. In reality, today’s open house was a test to see if anybody was interested. To see if anybody was insane enough to make the drive all the way out to Huntington to see a bunch of wooden birds. Of course, there was no charge. We were still ages away from having all the permits and stuff that were required to become a business, even one not for profit.

To sweeten the deal, my father was offering a free dish of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to everybody who showed up that day. For some stupid reason, the ice cream gurus had donated a bunch of bottomless cardboard tubs of the rock hard, icy, sticky stuff for the occasion. And for some stupid reason, I’d thought that was really nice of them and volunteered to be in charge of it.

And now my right arm was totally dead. I didn’t think anything could ever make me hate chocolate. But this afternoon was doing a good job of it.

“Here you go.” I handed the little girl her dish and dragged my eyes to her mom. “And for you?”

“Vanilla, please,” she said.

I decided to hate vanilla, too. I made my poor, abused fingers close around the scoop that lived in the vanilla tub.

“And how were you lucky enough to rate this job?” the mom asked.

I looked up at her as though she were out of her freaking mind. Beyond her, the line of people reached across Gale’s kitchen, down the hall, out the front door, along the path, across the driveway, and down the side of the road all the way to the shop. Which we were now supposed to call the Freaking Birds of Vermont Museum.

“I’m his daughter,” I growled.

“Oh, how marvelous! Your father has such incredible talent! Such patience! Such vision.”

I looked at her again to see if she was sane or not.

“To create such a project! And not want to make any money at it! All that work, to educate people about nature and conservation and – oh, everything! I had to come up here the minute I heard about it. This is something that must happen. I wanted my daughter to be able to say she’d seen it in its earliest days.” She nodded at the little girl dripping chocolate all over the place, who nodded back vigorously. Then the mom looked back at me. “You are so lucky to be part of all this.”

I looked up at her, my arm suddenly feeling a little less leaden and sticky. Did she really mean she hadn’t come all this way for free Ben and Jerry’s?

“I mean, look at the turnout!” she said. “There are hundreds of people here. You must be so proud.”

“It’s amazing,” someone behind her said.

“They look alive,” someone else said.

“I’m going to start a life list,” another voice added.

No, don’t! I almost said aloud. It won’t lead to good things! But then I found myself really smiling as I handed the mom her little dish. “Here you go,” I said. “Thanks so much for visiting the Birds of Vermont Museum today. And what kind would you like, sir? We have chocolate and vanilla and suet with sunflower sprinkles. Just kidding,” I added.

He laughed. “Chocolate, please.”

“Coming right up. Don’t let it drip on your binoculars.”

Everyone laughed. What great people, I thought. What a momentous day!

And what big muscles I’m going to have.


Kari Jo Spear‘s young adult, urban fantasy novels, Under the Willow, and  Silent One, are available at Phoenix Books (in Essex and Burlington, Vermont), and on-line at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Previous posts in this series:
Part 1: The Early Years
Part 2: The Pre-teen Years (or, Why I’m Not a Carver)
Part 3: Something’s Going On Here
Part 4: The Summer of Pies
Part 5: My Addiction
Part 6: Habitat Shots
Part 7: Growing Up

Bridges to Birds: Connecting to People

A slightly different version of this post appeared first in our late summer 2014 issue of Chip Notes.

Bridges to Birds 5-step bannerAs you may recall, we “took advantage” of the devastating flood, integrated that with several pre-existing hopes and plans, and coordinated an initiative we call Bridges to Birds. This four-fold project will make (and already is making) the Museum more accessible to all, indoors and out, enabling better and more bird conservation, environmental education, and appreciation of Vermont’s natural communities.

One phase of the Bridges to Birds Project, Connecting to New Perspectives (the Treehouse), was completed this summer, and you can read more about it elsewhere in the blog.

Two other phases, Connecting to Nature (with Interpretative Trails) and Connecting to Conservation (with Bird-friendly Gardens) are actively underway, thanks primarily to several dedicated volunteers and interns.

Now we focus our attention on another phase: Connecting to People (the reconstruction of our parking-to-entrance access). This one is perhaps the largest endeavor, and you’ve probably seen and read about the planning, engineering, and design aspects already in previous issues of Chip Notes.

Early in August we heard the great news that in the next few weeks the town of Huntington will replace the culvert that funnels the water from the creek above the Museum, under Sherman Hollow Road, and down to “Bob’s Bridge.” This is an essential prerequisite to our own construction process. Once this culvert and Sherman Hollow Road have been repaired, the Museum can start the physical repairs to create a safe passage for visitors from the parking lot to the Museum doors.

While waiting for this construction to start, we all have been learning and researching ADA laws, erosion prevention techniques, effective interpretation methods, and the ways entrances can shape and enhance Museum-going experiences. We have also been consulting with designers and engineers, writing grants, and working on other fundraising to bring this phase into reality.

So Far, with Gratitude

We are grateful for the support already given for work to date:

  • FEMA helped fund some of the emergency work last year: clearing downed trees and debris; removing electric lines ($800)
  • Vermont Community Foundation’s Special and Urgent Needs grant helped support initial personnel time (staff and consultant) as we began the planning and design of both temporary and permanent measures to bring people safely to the Museum, and storm water through the property ($5000).
  • Museum members and community donors help pay for some of the additional staff time as we continue to plan, apply for new grants, and develop related presentations and literature. Some of these donations will go directly to the initial construction costs ($7000).

We also recently received a grant from the Vermont Better Back Roads program to address stormwater runoff, preventing damage in the future. If you have seen the photos of the parking lot, or stopped in recently, you know from your own experience how essential this is to protect the riparian habitats along the tributary creek and Sherman Hollow Brook.

The Next Steps

We are about to embark on a fundraising campaign for the bulk of entrance-access construction. These costs are great. There will be costs for detailed plans and oversight from structural and civil engineers, the site work, bank stabilization, stream bed restoration, the ADA-compliant bridge and walkway construction, materials, and interpretation. One member has already promised to match all donations!

As space here is limited, look for another mailing with more information about the entire project. It will include detailed goals for each phase, costs, donation information, and a generous list of thank you gifts, from watercolor prints by Libby Davidson, to a very special one donated by Denver Holt, renowned Snowy Owl biologist.

Thank you to all who have donated so far! We will continue to post pictures as progress is made. This is a very exciting time as we not only repair what was damaged but create a fully welcoming space that connects people to the essential and exciting world of birds.

You can help

Make a financial donation

We happily accept donations online through JustGive, NetworkForGood, and PayPal. Or use the phone or address below.

Membership

Renew yours, become a new member, or give a gift membership to a bird-loving friend or family member. Use our online membership form (PDF).

Volunteer with us

Opportunities abound! Our Volunteer page has more info.

Bird Conservation Choices

Use your everyday choices, from the coffee you choose to the laws you enact, to create a world better for birds.

Share about us online

Tell people about us with travel reviews, in your blogs, and in your photos!


Bookmark and Share

You can also call (802) 434-2167 with your credit card info, or send a check in any amount at any time to

Birds of Vermont Museum
900 Sherman Hollow Road
Huntington, Vermont 05462

THANK YOU

The Bird Carver’s Daughter (Part 7: Growing Up)

Guest post by Kari Jo Spear, Photographer, Novelist, and Daughter of Bob Spear

Things were starting to get out of hand.

My father’s carvings had been well received during their debut in the art gallery in Montpelier. People had flocked in to see them. Photos had been taken. Articles had been written. In short, Vermont was interested in his project. After their few weeks in fame and glory, my father returned his carvings to his shop in triumph.

The problem was, they seemed to have grown while they’d been gone. Or else the shop had shrunk. The first day they were back, I stood in the doorway, surveying the long, rectangular room. Or trying to survey it. I couldn’t really see it, or the bench, or the wood stove, or any of my father’s tools. Or my father, for that matter, and even in his younger days, he wasn’t hard to miss. (Meaning that he wore red shirts back then, too, of course! I don’t mean to imply anything about his general recognizable shape.)

The whole room was full, as far as I could tell, of green, leafy branches, tree trunks, and bright spots of plumage.

“I’m back here!” My father’s voice came from somewhere near the window. I turned sideways and squeezed between Plexiglas cases in his direction, stopping to glance at my favorites — the red-winged blackbirds. Yup, the mud I’d painted down at the bottom still looked good.

I finally found my father sitting on his stool, peering in my direction.

“You made it,” he said.

“Yeah, it’s getting a little tight in here. What’d they feed these guys in Montpelier, anyway? Did they put steroids in the suet, or something?”

My father didn’t laugh. “I’ve been talking to the Shelburne Farms people. And the Ethan Allen Homestead.”

“About?” I prompted.

“Housing them,” he said. “The collection.”

So he’d evidently noticed the overcrowding of the avian population in the room, too.

“What are they thinking?” As tight as it getting in here, I suddenly felt kind of funny about the carvings all going away permanently. I’d kind of missed them just while they’d been off on their maiden flight. And would strangers take good care of my mud, and everything? I mean, that mud was the first and only mud I’d ever painted! It wasn’t just any mud, after all. It was part of my childhood memories.

“No one seems to think they’ve got enough room.”

“Are you kidding me? Those barns at Shelburne Farms are huge!”

My father cleared his throat and said something that sounded like “…more cases, and a wetland diorama, and endangered species…”

I blinked. “You mean, there’s going to be lot more? A lot more?”

My father looked kind of sheepish and muttered something about investors and interested parties. I didn’t know much about that kind of thing, but I knew that he was talking about money. For the first time, I began to realize that this project might get really, really big. And not only that, it might really happen.

‘Holy cow,” I said. “Are you like going to get famous?”

My father suddenly looked horrified and leapt off his stool. “Let’s go canoeing,” he said in a rush, and he was gone as though he’d grown wings himself.

It took me a lot longer to find my way to the door of the shop. Something in the atmosphere had suddenly changed. I looked at the cases and the birds inside them in a new way. Yeah, they were bigger all right. Even my mud didn’t feel as though it was all mine any longer. Whatever was starting to happen here might get really weird, like turn into a legacy or something. And outlast my father.

And even me.


Kari Jo Spear‘s young adult, urban fantasy novels, Under the Willow, and  Silent One, are available at Phoenix Books (in Essex and Burlington, Vermont), and on-line at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Previous posts in this series:
Part 1: The Early Years
Part 2: The Pre-teen Years (or, Why I’m Not a Carver)
Part 3: Something’s Going On Here
Part 4: The Summer of Pies
Part 5: My Addiction
Part 6: Habitat Shots

Call to Artists: Perilous Passages

The Birds of Vermont Museum seeks artwork for an exhibit commemorating the Passenger Pigeon. In the 100 years since the last Passenger Pigeon died, a deeper and more passionate comprehension of extinction compels us to conserve and protect. The Museum’s exhibit intends to highlight different aspects of the Passenger Pigeon’s story and its consequences. If you have (or will be making) art that speaks to this, please let us consider your work for our exhibit.

The exhibit will be a part of Project Passenger Pigeon’s 2014 centenary observation of the extinctions of the passenger pigeon. It will be open from May 1 – October 31 at the Birds of Vermont Museum (http://www.birdsofvermont.org). For more on the project: http://passengerpigeon.org/

How to submit: send up to 3 digital images (by link to your online portfolio or attach a JPG) to museum@birdsofvermont.org . Recommended size: about 800-1600 pixels on the longest side. Deadline for submission: March 15. Artists will be notified between March 16 and 31. We will be hanging the art between April 15-30.

If you are interested in selling your art (or cards/prints) during the exhibit, please let us know that as well.

October Events! Owls and arts, carvings and crafting, and a Festival!

October is for owls and arts, sales and stories, crafts and carvings

  

Please come to our Snowy Owl program and our awesome Fall Festival. That too exciting? Take a Big Sit break, and watch birds for an hour or 12. Relax while admiring art by 3rd and 5th graders on exhibit all month long. There’s also a Bluebird Brooch Felting Class and a Gift Shop Sale.

Continue reading “October Events! Owls and arts, carvings and crafting, and a Festival!”