The Bird Is the Word

Leave it to Boulder to become the testing ground for something as antithetical as “bus birding,” but that’s what’s happening, thanks to EcoArts Connections, the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and the Regional Transportation District. With help from artist and “re-naturalist” Brian Collier, the collaboration is yielding a formal exhibition, Bird Shift: The Anthropogenic Ornithology of North America, as well as a series of special events, lectures and, yes, both escorted and self-guided public birding jaunts utilizing Boulder’s Long JUMP buses, all meant to draw attention to the effects of changes in climate and habitat on bird populations in Boulder County.

“As far as we know, it’s never been done,” says Marda Kirn of EcoArts about the birding-by-bus component. But she is confident that “it could spread nationally.” And why not? Birding, she explains, is not only one of the most rapidly growing leisure sports and a perfect excuse to be outside, but it’s also something you can do as easily in the city as in the wild, making Boulder, comfortably wedged against the foothills and oozing with liberal eco-consciousness, the perfect place to launch such a program. To that end, special JUMP stops are outfitted with signs offering birding tips for the specific area, and brochures are also available on board the buses.

Bird Shift, which explores subjects like the changing face of Boulder’s bird populations, birds that live inside big box stores and how the 2017 shutdown of the Valmont Power Plant will affect birds taking advantage of that facility’s cooling ponds, continues through December at the museum, 1030 Broadway in Boulder. Upcoming events of note include a hands-on look at local scientific research on swallows on August 28 and bird-inspired Family Day activities on Saturdays in September; imaginative programming combining the arts and sciences continues through the fall. For more information, including a complete schedule, go to
Aug. 22-Dec. 31, 2011

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd