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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 18, 2006

Iowa Birds, Birders Subject Of UI Libraries' Exhibit

Birds have long captured peoples' imaginations, and those flights of fancy are on display in a new exhibit at the University of Iowa's Main Library that includes a display of bird specimens from the UI Museum of Natural History unseen for years.

"Words, Like Feathers Fly: Chronicles of Iowa Birders" will be on exhibit in the Main Library's North Lobby through October. Admission is free. The exhibit features a display of birding journals kept by two avid Iowa birders, Shirley Briggs of Iowa City and Pearl Knoop of Marble Rock. Both women donated their journals to the UI Libraries' Iowa Women's Archives following their deaths, Briggs in 2004 and Knoop in 1998. Samples of their writings and observation are on display.

Also included are bird specimens from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most originally collected by the Rev. Clinton Mellon Jones in New England. The Jones collection, which includes more than 600 birds, was donated to the UI Museum of Natural History in 1926. The dozen specimens in the exhibit have not been on public display for many years.

Birding has always been a popular hobby for Americans, and Iowans in particular. Eagles, owls and pigeons figured prominently in Ioway American Indian clan culture. White explorers and settlers of the 1800s began almost immediately to chronicle bird observations, collect eggs and eventually compile detailed lists of birds seen in Iowa. In 2001, 46 million Americans, or 22 percent of the population, identified themselves as birders or birdwatchers, according to the 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. About 813,000 Iowans, or 34 percent, of the state's residents call themselves birders, topping the combined number of Iowans who participate in hunting and fishing.

Other Iowa birders included in the exhibit include Ding Darling, Arthur Francis Allen and Bernt Olaf Wolden.

The North Lobby exhibit will be open during regular Main Library hours. More information is available on the University of Iowa Libraries' Web site at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,