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Platt to present program on birders from Halstead

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum continues to follow the bird theme established in the current special exhibit, “Meet the Beak,” with a presentation by one long-time birder about some bird-watching women from Halstead.

Dwight Platt, professor emeritus of biology at Bethel College, will present “Birding adventures: The Ruths from Halstead” at the next Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum event, Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m. in Kauffman Museum.

One of today’s popular hobbies in the North America is observing birds, from everyday backyard birds to migratory species that pass through Kansas twice a year. Sixty-five years ago, fewer people could identify birds common to the state. Rather than collecting stamps or coins, which were more widely followed hobbies of the 1940s, sisters Edna and Alma Ruth and their niece Ruth Rose of Halstead “caught the birding bug.”

Together, the Ruth sisters and their niece had many birding adventures. They watched birds in their yard, went boating on the Little Arkansas River to observe woodland birds and drove their car named “Topsy” to favorite birding sites in western Harvey County and beyond.

The women joined the Kansas Ornithological Society and recruited others, including their friend Marie Detweiler, also of Halstead, to become avid birders. Through the enthusiasm of the Ruths, Halstead was the bird watching center of Harvey County.

From 1942 to 1970, the three Ruth women kept daily lists of birds seen. These records are a significant contribution to the existing body of knowledge of Harvey County birds.

Platt earlier presented his research on the Ruths at the 2007 meeting of the Kansas Ornithological Society. The SAAM program is free and open to the public.

Kauffman Museum is located on the Bethel College campus at 27th and Main in North Newton. Regular museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the museum, which also includes admission to the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 6-16. More information is available by calling the museum at 316-283-1612 or visiting its Web site,

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