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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Birds of a Feather

Did you ever see a bird fly upside down? Or backwards?

Did you know a Northern Gannet can pick its mate out of a roost of thousands - that all look the very same to me!

Have you ever seen the ballet-like mating dance of the Reddish Egret?  Or the courtship dance of Sandhill Cranes?

Did you know the tail of a chickadee acts as a third wing in flight? Or that vultures soar for hours on currents without so much as the flap of a wing? Or that Magnificent Frigatebirds fish, eat, digest, and rest in flight?

I learned all this and much more yesterday at the Nanaimo Museum. The show, Birds of a Feather, is a travelling exhibition from The Museum of Nature in Ottawa and includes walls of the stunning bird photography of Ralph Hocken as well as educational displays. And the gift shop is well-stocked with bird supplies from Nanaimo's Backyard Wild Bird and Nature Store, sponsors of the exhibit.

My favourite part of the exhibit was a video called Our Feathered Friends: Flying High by the National Museum of Natural Sciences. I happened upon it half-way through and plopped myself down on a bench, mesmerized, to watch. But when it was over I couldn't find a way to turn it back to watch from the beginning. Luckily, a kind museum volunteer tracked down someone who came and opened up the cupboard underneath the VCR player and rewound the video for me. It was worth the wait! What a fascinating show. If it's not playing when you go, do take the trouble to ask for assistance. You won't regret it.

The exhibit runs to May 21 and costs only $2.00 ($1.75 if you're over 55 - what a deal!). If you're interested in birds (and I am assuming you are since you are reading the blog!) don't miss it. The Nanaimo Museum is a short walk from the Gabriola Ferry. Just walk up Front Street (heading east) and turn left at the Port Theatre corner. The museum is just up the hill past the library.


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