Museum exhibit explores birds, birding in South Texas
Flights of Fancy
Flights of Fancy

The Museum of the Coastal Bend at Victoria College will open its new “Flights of Fancy” exhibit on Friday, Nov. 20. The temporary exhibit, which explores birds and birding in South Texas from prehistory to today, will be open through Dec. 17, 2016.

Organized by the museum’s curatorial staff, the exhibit crosses disciplines to provide a comprehensive overview of the interactions between humans and birds of the Texas Coastal Bend.

Through photographs, ornithological specimens, historical artifacts and natural history displays, integrated with the wildlife art of American modernist Charley Harper, “Flights of Fancy” shares fascinating information about the birds of the Texas Coastal Bend.

“Texans know that Texas is a really special place, but a lot of people don’t realize just how special Texas is for birds,” said Eric Ray, museum curator. “We have more bird species than any other state, and a lot of birds here can’t be seen anywhere else in the country. They’re really important for our economic and our natural well-being.”

Texas birds and their behaviors have been regarded throughout the years as objects of art inspiration and scientific study. Archaeological evidence shows that birds were used as food resources by indigenous people and European colonists. Historical records reflect human behaviors that have affected bird habitats and populations as well as conservation activities that have brought birds back from the brink of extinction. Today, birding is a major source of tourism for Texas.

“We’re excited to share the amazing biodiversity of Texas with this exhibit and lots of related programs,” said Isabel Ray, curator of education and public programs at the museum. “Between tours to spot the whooping cranes or the birds of Riverside Park, natural science field trip activities, art projects and expert speakers, we’re going to have a big year. There’ll be something new each season, just like in the bird world outdoors.”

A members’ preview reception will be held Thursday, Nov. 19 with special guest Wayne McAlister, naturalist and retired Victoria College biology professor. The reception is free for museum members and $15 per person at the door for nonmembers.

A limited number of McAlister’s book, “Life on Matagorda Island,” will be available for purchase and signing at the reception.

Winners of the museum’s birding photography competition will also be announced during the members’ reception, and prizes will be awarded.

The exhibit is funded by members of the Museum of the Coastal Bend, and promotions are funded in part through City of Victoria HOT funds. The photography competition was organized with assistance from The Victoria Advocate.

The Museum of the Coastal Bend is located on the corner of Red River and Ben Jordan streets on Victoria College’s Main Campus in Victoria. Regular museum hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and admission is pay-what-you-want.

To learn more about museum programs, contact Van Dyke at (361) 582-2559 or email For more information, including a calendar of events, visit

Published: Friday, 13 November 2015

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