I love getting to visit a new specimen museum. You never know what they have in store. In the case of Angelo State this Shoebill proved to be my favorite. Imagine getting tangled up with that bill, you could loose your hand! That's really one of the best things about getting to visit a university collection. You get a great chance to see some examples of species that you may never get a chance to see in your life time.
The universities ornithology collection has been kept under the close and attentive eye of Dr. Terry Maxwell (pictured below with the Shoebill on his head!). I was really excited about meeting Dr. Maxwell, he is a "classically" trained ornithologist, so can only imagine some of the stories he has saved up over time?
Not only is Dr. Maxwell a superb ornithologist he also has the eye of an artist. I haven't found a link to some of his work but the color chalk drawings that are present in some of the department labs speak for themselves. Take this Ocelot for example, it's a chalk drawing on a blackboard! In anycase what a great way to spend the afternoon.
If you'd like to read a weekly column that Dr. Maxwell writes, one of the latest can be found at http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2008/jan/27/naturally-texas-mesquite---as-native-as-they/ . This is a great article concerning mesquite and its history in the southern plains. Enjoy!
Stay tuned, I have a weekend of birding (can you say Green Kingfisher) and mammology conference to report on from way down in west central Texas!