16 July, 1999
Aloha, This is my last day in Fairbanks and I spent the morning at the Alaska Bird Observatory. They are a nonprofit organization located in the wetland area of what used to be a dairy farm. Many migratory birds feed in the area and they are caught using nets that are set between trees in the densly wooded areas; the birds are then banded or cataloged, weighed, and have their body fat level assessed. (Body fat correlates with whether the bird has been stressed or not.) The birds,usually faithful, will return to the same area to nest year after year. The data is housed on a computerized data base for researchers to utilize. The institution also educates the public with tours and informal lectures. While I was there a summer camp group of children was being given a hands on experience in adaptions with body parts being passed around. The children were very curious and appreciative. Alaskans seem protective and proud of their natural environment. Andrea Swingley, one of the educators, told me that more bird seed is sold in Alaska, than any other state to feed the birds that over winter.
I returned to my B&B to pack up for the first leg of my journey back and then to the airport. In the air the mountains were clouded over and so I did not get a good camera shot. Luckily I will have a short layover in Anchorage in which to visit some interesting native people's exhibits and get a close up view of a glacier.
Anchorage is similar to Seattle in being close to the ocean and having lots of low clouds and misty rain. It is larger that Fairbanks, but still has a feeling of a last frontier and a rough edge. I visited a new Alaska Native Medical Center that housed a number of Alaskan native art work: beautiful baskets, masks, clothing, carvings, and dolls. The pictures at the bottom of this page are some examples from their exhibit.
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