The "Red, White and Blueberry Bird."
courtesy Department of Parks and
Recreation, Prince George's County, Md. Bird designed by
"Blueberry Bird" Honors USDA Blueberry and
Strawberry Breeding By
December 3, 2003
Today, the National
Visitor Center of the Agricultural
Research Service got an early holiday present. A bluebird, five feet tall,
with a large strawberry on its white chest and blueberries on its head, now
perches inside the visitor center located in Beltsville, Md.
The gift, from Friends of Agricultural
Research-Beltsville, Inc., is partly a "thank you" honoring the late Larry
Zeleny, an ARS biochemist who spent his retirement saving the bluebird from
extinction. FAR-B is an organization of current and retired employees of ARS'
Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC).
FAR-B successfully bid $550 for the fiberglass sculpture at a
November auction to benefit art education in Prince George's County, where BARC
The bird, named "Red, White and Blueberry Bird," is one of 74
whimsical versions of the eastern bluebird recently displayed throughout the
county. All the birds were produced through a public art project, "Birds I
View," modeled after exhibits such as the "Party Animals" in Washington, D.C.
The Birds I View project was
organized by the Maryland-National Capital
Park and Planning Commission and the Prince George's Arts Council.
"Red, White and Blueberry Bird" was designed by Maryland artist
Gurganus. The blueberries and strawberry symbolize the bird's blue and red
colors and the berries the birds eat, while also honoring ARS' historic
blueberry and strawberry breeding programs. Since 1911, about one commercial
blueberry variety a year has been developed from plants bred by
U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists at
what is now the ARS Fruit
Laboratory in Beltsville and its satellite location in New Jersey.
Strawberry breeding began in 1910. ARS and university fruit breeders in other
states also contribute to blueberry and strawberry releases.
The bird also honors Zeleny, who helped make the bluebird the
county bird and started the North
American Bluebird Society with a trail of bluebird nesting boxes still
maintained on BARC fenceposts. Today there are similar trails across the
information on BARC wildlife is in the October 2003 issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency. It is
celebrating its 50th anniversary, although its research roots trace back to
USDA's creation in 1862.