Birds at rest: Henderson museum takes flight
HENDERSON, Minn. -- In most museums, it's look but don't touch. But in this one, it's all about a hands-on experience. "Here, you can look at a bird like you've never seen a bird," Dolores Hagen said. "That's the idea -- feel, touch, look." Hagen...
HENDERSON, Minn. -- In most museums, it's look but don't touch. But in this one, it's all about a hands-on experience.
"Here, you can look at a bird like you've never seen a bird," Dolores Hagen said. "That's the idea -- feel, touch, look."
Hagen operates Henderson Feathers, a bird-aficionado resource center that has devoted display space to Art and Barb Straub's pride and joy -- their expansive collection of salvaged bird specimens.
It was Hagen's idea to encapsulate the preserved birds in inexpensive clear plastic storage tubes that allow viewers to literally go eyeball to eyeball with the specimens.
"For years we dragged them around in plastic bags as we went from school to school," said Art Straub of his and his wife's avocation of bringing their love and knowledge of birds to the masses.
The Minnesota Valley Mini-Birding Science Museum allows visitors to observe in fine detail a bird's subtle colors, wing bands, beak shapes and other details virtually impossible to discern at distances.
The collection also includes nests, habitat examples and other general information about bird identification.
The Straubs have been collecting specimens for years, typically relying on birds' untimely demises to augment their cache.
The other day, for example, Straub fielded a call and was on his way to fetch a dead cardinal that had crashed into a woman's window.
Yes, he already has a cardinal specimen, but a prudent salvage-bird collector can always use a spare.
"Rescuing" dead birds isn't simply a matter of bag-and-go, Straub said. He must jump through the requisite permitting hoops of state wildlife agencies.
"You have to swear up and down that it was road kill or window kill," Straub said as he grabbed a tubed bird from a display shelf. The tag inside the tube reads "Hairy woodpecker, Henderson window kill, 2003."
There are some specimens even a licensed bird corpse salvager can't have. Raptors, for example. Straub says dead eagles must be turned over to Indian tribes for religious ceremonial use.