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Aeronauts of the Platte River Valle

Southcentral Nebraska is a hub for various bird species, with the sandhill cranes being the most renowned. These re- markable birds cover extensive distances annually in a consistent migratory path to- wards their breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. During late February to early April, south central Nebraska welcomes over 1 million sandhill cranes, representing over 80 percent of the global population. The cranes are attracted to the fertile Platte River, where they refuel on the grains found in farmers’ fields before continuing their journey northward. This river was named “Platte” by French explorers due to its “flat water” appearance as a slow-moving shallow body of water originating from the eastern Rocky Mountains.

For a close encounter with lifelike cranes and other local birds in Nebraska’s Platte River Valley, the Harold Warp Pio- neer Museum showcases var- ious bird specimens, including those mounted by renowned Nebraskan taxidermist Henry G. Stolze in the late 19th cen- tury. The museum also displays antique duck decoys, which have evolved from Native

American bulrushes and mud creations to paper-mâché and hand-carved wooden decoys over the years. Additionally, the museum’s art section features original paintings and prints, including works by John James Audubon, known for his detailed bird illustrations in the early 19th century. The Pioneer Village houses some of Audubon’s famous bird plates, such as the Meadow Lark, Barn Swallow, Wood Duck, Prairie Warbler, American Magpie, and various orioles and thrushes. These plates were engraved and colored by Robert Havell Jr. of London. The museum also proudly exhibits the original 1968-69 duck stamp designed by C. G. Pritchard of Omaha, along with artworks by other prominent bird artists like John Gould, L. E. “Bud” White, Edward Marshall Boehm, and Michael Sughroue.

Visitors can admire Gould’s prints of birds like the Barnacle Goose, Tengmalm’s Owl, Pied Flycatcher, Sabine’s Gull, and the Sand Martin, showcasing his global ornithological expeditions. White’s bird carvings from the 1970s, Boehm’s porcelain bird sculptures, and Sughroue’s lifelike woodcarvings of wild birds, including the intricate basswood-carved Roadrunner, can also be appreciated at the museum. Harold Warp’s passion for collecting Americana and ornithological art is evident throughout Pioneer Village, offering a glimpse into his diverse interests and art appreciation.

Minden Courier Story


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