Influenced By Birds: Berks County Birding Giants and Their Legacy

April 2 - August 28, 2005

March 17, 2005, Reading, PA – The Reading Public Museum, in collaboration with the Baird Ornithological Club, is presenting a retrospect of the legacy of three significant Berks County birding individuals. Influenced by Birds – Berks County Birding Giants and Their Legacy, honors Levi Mengel, Earl Lincoln Poole and Maurice Broun and their valuable contribution to the understanding of Berks County birds. The exhibit is sponsored by the Widgeon Foundation, and in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Museum guests will have the opportunity to view the exhibit from April 2 through August 28, 2005.

Michael Feyers, the Museum’s Science Curator states, “We are excited about this collaboration with the Baird Ornithological Club. It provides the Museum with an opportunity to highlight the work of these local individuals that brought a greater understanding and appreciation of the birds found in Berks County. Levi Mengel’s early collection of local birds, Earl Poole’s drawings, paintings, and publications, and Maurice Broun’s efforts to help establish the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary are tangible legacies left for us to contemplate and enjoy.

Levi Mengel, the Reading Public Museum’s founder, was the first person to systematically document Berks County bird life. He first began to collect birds in high school keeping records of the bird’s eggs and nests. The information collected from Mengel is still used by scientists today, and his collection became the core of the Museum’s ornithological collection.
Earl Lincoln Poole served as Museum Director following Mengel, and was one of the founders of the Baird Ornithological Club. As a talented artist, ornithologist, author, and sculptor he spent hours within the field documenting birds in sketches, drawings and paintings. His illustrated work has been featured in 40 books including his own 1947 publication A Half Century of Bird Life in Berks County. His illustrations include natural history from Cape May, New Jersey, as well as Arctic Canada to South America.

Maurice Broun was the first director of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and a well-noted naturalist. Broun and his wife Irma were extremely influential in the creation of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, located in northern Berks County on the Appalachian Ridge. They fought for the safety of hawks on the mountain and often placed themselves in front of armed hawk hunters. Retiring in 1966, Broun served as a Hawk Mountain curator and published his book Hawks Aloft, a documentary of the Sanctuary's early years.

Influenced by Birds – Berks County Birding Giants and Their Legacy features the legacy of Mengel, Poole and Broun, as well as the birding that continues today as a result of their efforts. A variety of unique artifacts and art will be on exhibit including a never-before-seen collection of Mengel specimens; the paintings, sketches and etchings of Poole; and personal memorabilia owned by Broun.

The Baird Ornithological Club, founded in 1921 by Earl Lincoln Poole and Harold Morris, is the center for Berks County amateur bird watchers. The Club was named after Reading born Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887), who served as the second Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The Baird Ornithological Club compiles and preserves Berks bird life information, which has been published in several books including Poole’s book A Half Century of Bird Life in Berks County. The Reading Public Museum published an updated version in 1997 entitled A Century of Bird Life in Berks County edited by Bill Uhrich.

The Reading Public Museum’s regular hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11a.m. to 5p.m.; Wednesday 11a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday Noon to 5p.m. Regular Museum admission is $7 for adults (ages 18 - 60) and $5 for seniors/children/student (with ID). Museum Members and children under 4 are free.

Related Programming for Influenced by Birds:

Discovery Talk - “Bird-Friendly Alternatives to Exotic Invasive Plants” Sunday, May 29, 2005 at 1:00p.m. Join Rudy Keller, Temple University Ambler Landscape Arboretum horticulturalist and Vice President of the PA Society for Ornithology, to learn about invasive exotic plants and their natural bird attracting alternatives. Free with admission. Museum Auditorium.

Building for Birds Workshop” Sunday, June 26, 2005 - First Session 11:00a.m., Second Session 12:30p.m., Third Session 1:30p.m. Assemble a hanging-style birdhouse by yourself or with your family. You assemble the birdhouse for the bird you want to attract – choose from House Wren, Chickadee, Titmouse, Downy Woodpecker, or Bluebird – the hole and perch will be modified. You can paint or stain at home. Class size is limited to 7 individuals or families. Choose your class time 11a.m., 12:30p.m. or 1:30p.m. $5 Members, $15 Non-members. Pre-registration required by calling 610-371-5850, ext. 235.

Berks Bird Walk” Saturday, July 9, 2005 at 9:00a.m. Join the Reading Public Museum for a bird watching session along the path of the Museum’s creek. Participants will meet in front of the Planetarium and are asked to bring binoculars and a bird field guide. Walk in free, but pre-registration is required. Limit 15. Call 610-371-5850, ext. 235.

Drawing Workshop - “Take a Closer Look” Saturday, August 13, 2005 at 1:00p.m. Individuals will learn to visually dissect birds and record their findings on paper. This beginning level drawing class covers basic techniques such as sketching, contour drawing and shading with colored pencils. Ages 10 to adult. Limit 20. $5 Members, $15 Non-members. Pre-registration required by calling 610-371-5850, ext. 235.