Celebrating Red and naturePublished 7:00pm Sunday, April 14, 2013
Winter weather, ice and thunderstorms hit Austin last week, but folks at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center have their sites locked on spring — and a final farewell to a beloved hawk.
If the weather cooperates, look for the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center to kick off the spring season with several programs and events about birds, and with a memorial for the nature center’s popular red-tailed hawk, Red, on Sunday, April 21.
Red was euthanized in late January at the age of 33 after a fight with liver and heart problems. He spent his entire life at the Nature Center.
“He will be missed,” Nature Center executive director Larry Dolphin said. “He has been very much a part of the Nature Center.”
Before the tribute, the Nature Center will kick off the season with an in-depth look at hummingbirds.
Stan Tekiela: “Hummingbirds — Unique Images and Characteristics”
•7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16
Minnesota wildlife photographer, naturalist and author Stan Tekiela returns to the Nature Center with photos of hummingbirds, and his take on the species. This is the first time he will present at the Nature Center on hummingbirds.
“Stan does a great job with his pictures, and he’s a very good interpreter of the behavior he sees,” Dolphin said.
Tekiela’s photography focuses on birds, and this event foreshadows hummingbirds’ return to the region, which usually takes play during the first half of May, Dolphin said. Tekiela will talk about how hummingbirds feed, catch insects, mate and migrate.
“It’s kind of a preview to get people excited,” Dolphin said. “We’re hoping spring will turn the corner and we’ll get warmer temperatures.”
The event is free and sponsored by the Friends of the Nature Center and the Austin Audubon Society.
Earth Day kickoff clean-up
•8:30-noon Saturday, April 20
Earth Day is Sunday, April 21 this year, but the Nature Center is looking for volunteers the day before to mark storm sewers to remind people not to dumb garbage or oil, as it goes directly into the river.
The Nature Center is teaming up with Vision 2020, and will spend the morning labeling storm sewers.
Contact the Nature Center at 507-437-7519 for more information or to sign up. Volunteers will meet in the Nature Center parking lot.
Earth Day Celebration: Red’s Memorial, Tree Planting, and Douglas Wood and the WildSpirit Band
•1 p.m. Sunday, April 21
Dolphin expects a big showing for Red’s memorial, as he touched a lot of lives. For nearly all of Red’s 33-year life, the Nature Center used him to teach kindergartners through third-graders about birds of prey.
“Thousands of youth who have gone through here have at least met Red,” Dolphin said.
Dolphin and other staff will plant a tree and put Red’s cremated remains around it to help it grow.
“It’s just an acceptance of paying tribute to our longest serving employee — 33 years as an educational bird,” Dolphin said. “Those who have taken care of him, have connections and really appreciated him.”
The Earth Day celebration doesn’t end with Red’s memorial, as immediately following the ceremony at about 2 p.m., the Nature Center will host a concert by Douglas Wood and the WildSpirit Band.
“This is the perfect band. They have a couple of songs about hawks soaring,” Dolphin said.
Wood, an internationally best-selling author and acoustic singer/songwriter, leads the group as they sing about the outdoors, nature, and of course, hawks. The band’s sound — with a banjo, mandolin, 6- and 12-string guitars, a bass and three-part vocal harmonies — can be described as a mix of Appalachian bluegrass and Mississippi blues, with some classic rock and country sprinkled in.
The event is free and features cake and refreshments, but attendees should RSVP by April 19. Call 507-437-7519 or email email@example.com.
Spring Bird Watching
•6:30 a.m. May 2, 9, 14, 16 and 23
The Austin Audubon Society will launch its annual bird watching season in early May.
“We have some birding people with a lot of expertise,” Dolphin said. “It’s great to get out and look for and listen to the sounds of spring.”
Dolphin said early May is the perfect time to watch for birds, as many are traveling through the area or on their way back from migration. He said bird enthusiasts can come and go as they please, and cut out early for work if they need to.
Douglas Wood — Minnesota Naturalist, Storyteller and Musician
•Thursday, June 20 (family/children’s program at 1:30 p.m., evening program at 7:30)
Douglas Wood is back for Round two in Austin as the opening act for the Summer Solstice Ecoblitz with his family program of “Earth Songs, Earth Stories.”
The event features songs and storytelling, with everything tied to an abiding love for the earth, according to the Nature Center. The program features Native American legends, children’s stories about a rabbit reaching the moon and songs about Spaceship Earth.
RSVP by June 17 by calling 507-437-7519.
Summer Solstice Ecoblitz
•8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m.
Saturday, June 22
The Nature Center will celebrate the summer solstice in style again this year with its popular Ecoblitz program.
The event features family-friendly outdoors entertainment, with canoe rides and races, trail rides, pond scooping for aquatic critters, dragonfly expert Kurt Mead, a nature survival game and much more.
Families can choose three, four or five events out of seven, and spend anywhere from a half a day to all day enjoying nature.
“It’s a great family event with lots of activities,” Dolphin said. “There’s lots to do with mom or dad, grandma or grandpa.”
To register call 507-437-7519.