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Now Exhibiting New Exhibits! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jennifer Smith   
Thursday, 06 December 2012 23:34

I am the Avian Care Intern here at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, but this internship is about so much more than just taking care of birds. Part of my responsibilities here included completing a project that interested me and benefitted the Sanctuary as a whole. I am interested in educating people about conservation, so I decided to make two educational displays for the Overlook Museum. The Sanctuary put up a Purple Martin house just this spring, so I made one display about Citizen Science and Purple Martins. I created another exhibit about lead poisoning in Trumpeter Swans, because I am interested in the impact that lead ammunition has had on bird populations. I spent a good bit of time researching Purple Martins and Trumpeter Swans, and have learned  A LOT about both species. By doing this project, I also learned a lot about exhibit design—how to make an aesthetically pleasing layout, which type of font to use, what size of font to use, etc. etc.

To learn more about the internship program here at the Sanctuary, and about past intern projects, check out our intern web page.

Here is a little summary of my exhibits:


Purple Martins are fascinating birds. Over thousands of years, they have developed a close relationship with people, and have now reached a point where they will only nest in man-made housing. The introduction of House Sparrows and European Starlings was a huge blow to the Purple Martin, because the non-native birds would out-compete them for nesting sites.  In 1987, the Purple Martin Conservation Association was formed in response to their decline. In 1995, the PMCA started Project Martinwatch, a Citizen Science project that collects data from Martin landlords across the country to monitor their population. Thanks to the combined efforts of citizen scientists and academic scientists, the Purple Martin is doing much better now than it was before. The Sanctuary put up a Purple Martin house this past spring for the first time, and we had one successful nest. Hopefully we will have even more success next year!


Though lead waterfowl shot was banned in 1991, the presence of lead in the environment is still proving to be a problem for many species, including Trumpeter Swans. Trumpeters are susceptible because of their foraging habits. They dig around in the bottom of lakes with their bills, which uncovers lead that had previously been buried. They then ingest the lead, because they cannot tell the difference between a lead pellet and a small stone, which would aid in digestion by grinding up hard food items like corn. Because lead is such a soft metal, it is ground up in the gizzard, and is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. As few as three lead pellets have been known to cause death! Conservation groups, such as the Trumpeter Swan Society, are working to ban all lead ammunition for hunting, but progress is slow due to opposition.

Be sure to check out the Overlook Museum the next time you visit the Sanctuary! The hours are the same as the bookstore: Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am-4pm.