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University of Iowa News Release


May 1, 2009

UI Museum of Natural History hosts Migratory Bird Day events

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History will present two free, public programs about birds on Sunday, May 17 in celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, which takes place in the United States in early May.

The museum's monthly "Animal Tales Storytime" series will feature books about bird migration at 2 p.m. in the Hageboeck Hall of Birds, located in Macbride Hall on the UI Pentacrest. Following the storytime, the museum will present "Iowa Birds of Prey," a live bird demonstration with the Macbride Raptor Project at 3 p.m. in Macbride Hall's Biosphere Discovery Hub.

"I think it will be great to give people a chance to see the birds in the museum's displays and also interact with the live birds from the Macbride Raptor Project," said Sarah Horgen, museum education and outreach coordinator.

Horgen said this is the first time in many years that the museum will have live animals inside its halls for an educational event. Phil Cronin, project assistant with the Macbride Raptor Project, will bring a hawk and an owl to the museum to teach visitors about raptors, defined as birds such as hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, vultures and osprey that catch prey with their talons.

At the one-hour program, Cronin will discuss identification characteristics of different kinds of raptors, their habitat needs, and what problems humans have caused the animals. Human activities take the heaviest toll on the birds, Cancilla said, as the animals are illegally shot, trapped and poisoned, harmed by environmental contaminants like DDT and other pesticides, and affected by the destruction of their habitat, including prairies, wetlands and forests. Due to a combination of these factors, over half of the raptor species that have historically nested in Iowa are either gone or on the state endangered species list.

Since 1985, the Macbride Raptor Project has been devoted to preserving Iowa's birds of prey and their natural habitats. Each year, the organization, sponsored by the UI and Kirkwood Community College, receives around 180 sick and injured birds for rehabilitation. About 40 percent of the birds make a full recovery and are released back into the wild. Many of the non-releasable birds are kept with the project for use in public educational programs like "Iowa Birds of Prey."

"I hope that the programs help create an awareness of the role we as humans have in the world around us," said Jodeane Cancilla, Macbride Raptor project director.

"It's such an important program that a lot of people don't know about," Horgen said. "I would like to work with them more in the future to continue to help them get the word out about what they do."

The museum's Animal Tales Storytime series features student staff members or volunteers reading books that relate to a museum exhibit or an animal in the museum's collection. Following each storytime, children may take part in an activity, such as a scavenger hunt, or receive an activity to do at home.

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History features three permanent galleries exploring natural history and emerging environmental research in Iowa and beyond. For more information call 319-335-0606 or visit

For more information on the Macbride Raptor Project call the Macbride Raptor Project, 319-398-5495 or UI Recreational Services, 319-335-9293 or visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sarah Horgen, UI Museum of Natural History,, 319-335-0606; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,; Writer: Maggie Anderson