Museum and arboretum will partner to host bird symposium

Blue jay on a tree branch with a sunflower seed in its beak

As Kauffman Museum dives into its celebration of local birds and birding with its special exhibit “A Day with the Birds,” the next step is a collaboration with Dyck Arboretum of the Plains.

The two entities – at Bethel and Hesston colleges, respectively – will host “Murmurations & Exaltations: Birds and Birding in a Changing World,” a half-day symposium held at Dyck Arboretum in Hesston from 8 a.m.-noon on March 2.

Starting a little earlier is the regular monthly Kauffman Museum-sponsored First Saturday Bird Walk, held this time only at the arboretum, starting at 7:30 a.m. in front of the visitors’ center.

Like all the museum bird walks, this is free and open to everyone. The symposium, however, is by registration only. Go to to register online (fees vary depending on membership at either Kauffman Museum or Dyck Arboretum), or call 316-283-1612.

Registration includes breakfast (at 8:15 a.m.) along with presentations from three experts in varying aspects of birds and birding and by Dyck Arboretum staff, starting at 9 a.m.

Keynote speaker Chuck Otte, retired Geary County extension agent and well-known Kansas birder, is currently secretary of the Kansas Ornithological Society; Dr. Jean Woods is assistant professor of biology at Bethel College and a longtime birder; and Dr. Jackie Augustine is executive director of Audubon of Kansas.

Otte’s topic is “The State of Kansas Birds.” Woods will speak about “Museum Bird Specimens: Studying the Past to Save Birds.” And Augustine’s talk is titled “Bird Conservation: Are Birders Replacing Hunters?” and addresses conservation funding and the growing hobby of birding.

Dyck Arboretum horticulturist Katie Schmidt will introduce “Native Plant Birding Bundles,” which will be available exclusively to symposium attendees at the arboretum’s FloraKansas Native Plant Days in April.

The registration fee is $20 for museum or arboretum members and $25 for non-members.

“Murmurations & Exaltations” coincides with the unveiling of Kauffman Museum’s special exhibit, “A Day with the Birds: Community Science and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.”

The symposium is one of several events scheduled this spring to both raise awareness of the sharp decline of North American bird populations and to inspire and encourage participation in community science projects. These projects continue to inform and improve bird conservation efforts across North America.

For more information, see Regular Kauffman Museum hours are Tues.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1:30-4:30 p.m., closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the special exhibit, “A Day with the Birds,” and permanent exhibits – “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” – is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. The museum store is open during the museum’s regular hours. See or the museum Facebook page for more information.