Mr. Owl is coming to Vermont, and if you think that sounds like a children’s book character or a holdover from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” you’re close. The man who wears that sobriquet is Denver Holt, a children’s book author, director of the Charlo, Mont., Owl Research Institute, and an expert on Snowy Owls. But the occasion for his talk at the Richmond Free Library on Friday, October 4, has an unfortunate ulterior motive. It’s a fundraiser for the Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington, which was severely damaged by flooding earlier this year.
The destruction of the main access and many of the walking paths are “limiting our ability to effectively carry out the mission of the museum,” says executive director Erin Talmage in an email. Indeed, a slide show on the museum’s website illustrates the damage wreaked by torrential rainfall and flash flooding on July 3, evoking scenes from 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene. Visitors were literally trapped inside, as well as in cars in the parking lot, for hours until the floodwaters subsided. And when they did, ruined paths, roads and trees were revealed.
The beloved 26-year-old museum — “where natural history meets art” — was founded by master bird carver Robert Spear. (“Over 500 birds … and that’s just the carvings!” chirps the museum’s home page.) The nonprofit not only educates the public about birds but works to instill in visitors and area schoolchildren a conservation consciousness about the environment and animal habitats.
Holt is clearly a kindred spirit. He’s a nominee for the 2014 biennial Indianapolis Prize, an award for international conservation work, and as such is in stellar company, including renowned anthropologist/primatologist Jane Goodall. Perhaps his talk about the Snowy Owl this week will convince even more people to give a hoot.
Denver Holt Program on Snowy Owls Friday, October 4, 7 p.m. at the Richmond Free Library. The event is free but donations will be accepted to benefit the Birds of Vermont Museum.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Bird Brains"