May 12, 2014

Renowned ornithologist to lead spring bird walk at UNL's Prairie Pines

Mary Bomberger Brown

Mary Bomberger Brown, research assistant professor in UNL’s School of Natural Resources and coordinator of the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership, will lead a spring bird walk at 6 a.m. May 17 at Prairie Pines, 3100 N. 112th St.

Bomberger Brown will guide attendees through the walk as they identify birds and their songs.

“A bird walk is simply a walk in the woods, in the prairie or a walk along the shore looking for birds and other natural things,” Bomberger Brown said. “The activity takes on the personality of the group — if there are good botanists with us, then we’ll look more at plants; if there are good birders with us, then we’ll look more at birds; if there are good entomologists with us, then we’ll look more at butterflies and bugs.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring binoculars, water and sturdy walking shoes. The event is free and open to the public.

The walk will wind through one of Nebraska’s statewide arboretums, pass an active organic training farm, visit a native prairie and cross fields visited by wildlife. Attendees can expect to see a combination of birds that include the mid-late migrants and resident breeders common in eastern Nebraska.

“The spring weather will determine to some degree which migrants we see,” Bomberger Brown said. “I’ll be looking for turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, ring-necked pheasants, killdeer, rock pigeons, Eurasian collared-doves, mourning doves, chimney swifts, downy/hairy/red-headed woodpeckers, northern flickers – among a number of other possibilities.”

Bomberger Brown is a UNL alumna who earned bachelor of science, master of science and doctoral degrees. She is a fellow in the American Ornithologists’ Union who has authored and co-authored numerous studies and publications on birds.

“Guided by a knowledgeable professional, learn about what spring means to the lives of birds,” said Lisa Pennisi, assistant professor of practice in the School of Natural Resources. “And you will get to experience Prairie Pines, and see for yourselves why faculty at the School of Natural Resources want to make this area an environmental education center and demonstration farm to share with local school children and the community.”

Prairie Pines is 145 acres of land on the fringe of east Lincoln donated to UNL by Walt and Virginia Bagley. The School of Natural Resources aims to develop Prairie Pines into an environmental education center and demonstration farm, which would offer children and families the opportunity to learn about agriculture, discover nature and connect with the community.