A Bird Walk with Kimball Garrett,
NHM’s Ornithology Collections
Manager, is not your average birding
excursion. Garrett, who can identify
birds by their call with split-second
accuracy, alerts visitors to a diverse
range of feathered creatures gliding
and diving through the new Nature
Gardens. To be a hospitable spot for
feathered flocks, we planted a great
variety of trees, shrubs, and annuals
that provide seeds, fruits, nectar, and
insects. There are dense bushes for
cover and plentiful nesting spots, too.
Los Angeles County has more
bird species (512 and counting)
than any other county in the U.S.
On walks, Kimball may point out a
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
catching insects out of the air, an
Allen’s Hummingbird feeding on nectar,
and a Nuttall’s Woodpecker tapping
on a sycamore trunk. The whole idea
is to help visitors (with or without
binoculars) take in the surprising
diversity of birds taking to the sky in
the Nature Gardens every day.
See a video of Kimball Garrett at
The Otis Booth Pavilion, the Museum’s mammoth
glass-sided entrance, is a beacon for L.A., a nightlight
visible from as far away as downtown. But during the
day, the new six-story space is a sunlit passageway and
gathering spot for Angelenos and far-flung visitors to
experience the transformed, indoor-outdoor NHM.
One pavilion experience is hard to miss—a spectacular
63-foot-long fin whale specimen gracefully “diving”
overhead. Add to that an immersive sound system, so
visitors can hear, and even feel, the sounds a real whale
makes. The pavilion is also equipped with 33,600
Natural History
Family of Museums
Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits
Ice Age CSI
The famous La Brea Tar Pits have
stirred the imagination of scientists
for over a century. Yet, how long it
took the Ice Age animals—from
saber-toothed cats to camels—to
fossilize in asphalt after enduring a
gruesome death has remained a
mystery. Now, NHM entomologist
Anna R. Holden and paleontologist
John M. Harris, Chief Curator of the
Page Museum, and Kansas University
mammologist Robert M. Timm have
conducted forensic investigations— 
think Ice Age CSI—that reveal new
clues about this ancient death trap.
As they write in the journal
PLoS One
some of the mammal bones they found
showed traces left by insects. Results
from experiments with live insect
colonies allowed them to estimate the
climate conditions, and how long it
took for beasts to submerge in the
entrapping tar 10,000–60,000 years
ago. “This encapsulates a natural
drama that unfolded thousands of
years ago right in the middle of
Los Angeles,” Holden said.
William S. Hart Museum
Star-Studded Movie
Kick back under the stars on the
historic Horseshoe Ranch, or William
S. Hart Museum and Park, on Saturday,
August 17, for a barbecue dinner and
outdoor screening of Bill Hart’s 1920
The Cradle of Courage
See Hart stretch his acting
muscles as he tackles a character
that works three different jobs:
safecracker, WWI soldier, and police
officer. Before the movie starts, the
festivities kick off with twilight tours
of Hart’s picturesque retirement
mansion, where you can see his
impressive collection of Western art,
Native American artifacts, and early
Hollywood memorabilia. After the
tour and dinner, there will be a silent
auction featuring Western collectibles
and antiques. Live music accompanies
the silent film, one of Hart’s rare
Written by Jessica Portner
to read the
article and see the latest finds.
Nature Gardens Explorations, which include
bird walks and bug hunts, ponding and
harvesting, are Thursday–Sunday at 11 am.
For more information, visit
Be an NHM volunteer in the Nature Gardens!
For tickets, go to
in the city
NHM volunteer Richard Thai is a botanical concierge of sorts, offering visitors
from around the world details on the local sites— in this case, birds’ nests,
blooming plants, and plentiful bugs in the new Nature Gardens. Volunteer Kerry
Dockstader helps NHM’s Head Gardener Richard Hayden prune, weed, and mulch.
Both are among the 40 volunteers helping NHM staff in the Nature Gardens,
a 3½-acre outdoor living laboratory  that has been carefully planted with more
than 300 species of native and nonnative plants. Both Thai and Dockstader were
trained on everything from how native plants survive and thrive in our
Mediterranean climate to how to identify greenery. “What strikes me about this
place is how it appeals to the senses,” said Dockstader. The ubiquitous blooms, the
symphony of birdcalls, the honeybees. “This is a living garden,” she said, “and it’s
action packed.”
Visit NHM.ORG/nature.
Bringing the Gardens to Life
“This is a living garden… 
and it’s action packed.”
—Kerry Dockstader
INTO Your Bold New Museum
LED lights, which can be employed to display a
curtain of water, a backdrop of shadows, or video
that staffers can program. The pavilion, which cuts
through the center of the Museum campus, links
the new outdoor Nature Gardens to NHM’s
indoor exhibitions, including the Nature Lab, and
Becoming Los Angeles
, a story about L.A.’s nature
and culture over five centuries that only we can tell.
Ready to dive in?
See a video of the opening of the pavilion at
August/September 2013 
August/September 2013 
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