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The former name of this bird (Merops apiaster Linnaeus, 1758)—the bee-eater—says a lot about its biology. The bee-eater (Merops apiaster is its full name according to the binominal nomenclature of species) is a bird from the bee-eater family (most species from this family occur in Africa and Asia). It feeds on insects, including bees and wasps caught in flight. bee-eaters establish nests in loess escarpments by drilling special tunnels in them (usually in high escarpments and banks).

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The former name of this bird (Merops apiaster Linnaeus, 1758)—the bee-eater—says a lot about its biology. The bee-eater (Merops apiaster is its full name according to the binominal nomenclature of species) is a bird from the bee-eater family (most species from this family occur in Africa and Asia). It feeds on insects, including bees and wasps caught in flight. bee-eaters establish nests in loess escarpments by drilling special tunnels in them (usually in high escarpments and banks). Very few birds exist in south-eastern Poland, mainly in the Lublin, Świętokrzyskie and Podkarpackie provinces. Object preserved as a dermoplast.
Against the background of native species, the European roller is distinguished by many features. It belongs to the Coraciiformes, the most exotic and thermophilic birds in our country and is the most colourful bird. Of course, no exhibit or even a good photo can reflect the beauty and colour of this bird. Unfortunately, due to their small numbers, they are very difficult to observe. In Poland, less than 80 breeding pairs are known to exist. The largest colonies are located in the south-eastern part of the country (on the Bug and San rivers).
In the past, bee-eater was less frequently observed than today. These birds have been seen occasionally since the 18th century, mainly non-breeding ones. From the 1950s and 1960s, their numbers began to grow to their present level. In the last quarter of a century, the proliferation of the species in our country has clearly declined. On a larger scale, apart from slight fluctuations, the global population seems stable and not under threat.
The withdrawal of this bird from unpopulated river valleys was an interesting phenomenon (1970s–1980s). Probably due to the lack of suitable places for nesting, it settled in the towns (in Rzeszów, Dębica, Tarnów and Przemyśl).

More: http://www.tbop.org.pl/programy/ochrona/zolna/

Elaborated by Wojciech Sanek (The Krystyna and Włodzimierz Tomek Natural Science Museum), the editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

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On the creation of natural collections, dermoplasts and the art of dissection

Włodzimierz Tomek was a representative of a wide group of experts and aficionados of nature. He worked as a forester, and his hobby was hunting. Having linked his life to Ciężkowice, he decided to create a natural collection representing the flora and fauna of the Pogórze Ciężkowickie region...

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Włodzimierz Tomek was a representative of a wide group of experts and aficionados of nature. He worked as a forester, and his hobby was hunting. Having linked his life to Ciężkowice, he decided to create a natural collection representing the flora and fauna of the Pogórze Ciężkowickie region. The collections were enlarged by him over time are now exhibited in a museum established in his name. They have also become a historical image of the nature in this region – many of the exhibits obtained represent species which no longer inhabit this area any more. Another aspect of his activity was collecting objects related to natural history. The creation of private collections (exotic animals and plants), the activities of scientific institutions in the form of scientific exploratory expeditions to various regions of the world, interest in natural history (for example, palaeontology) resulted in the creation of collections which encompass both animate and inanimate nature. Furthermore, the collection was connected with the development of modern natural sciences, an important part of which was the development of taxonomy. The acquired exhibits were used in research and widely-created exhibitions of natural history which were extremely popular in the 19th century. The largest collections and the most famous museums, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Humboldt–Museum in Berlin, the Natural History Museum in London, date back to this period. Using these experiences, local amateur researchers began to create collections covering the fauna and flora from their immediate area. Many of these people were hunters, and their area of interest was the creation of hunting collections, presented in the aptly named hunting rooms. It is currently a separate branch of hunting culture, with its own typology of trophies and ethical principles (the hunter, when creating such a room, should only place trophies obtained by himself in it). Both collecting hunting trophies and creating natural collections is associated with the development of preparatory activities, that is, the ability to anatomize the exhibits skilfully in order to preserve their durability, and in the case of hunting collections, also skills related to the ability to depict the “living animal” in the most faithful manner possible, for example, while hunting. The objects from the Museum in Cieżkowice presented in the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums have the character of the so-called dermoplasts. This type of dissection involves stretching the skin of a given animal (properly protected against being damaged by the used chemicals – in the past, among others, this included arsenic) on a specially shaped (wooden or plastic) mould corresponding to the physical body of the animal. Next, the exhibit is stitched and supplied with accessories such as glass eyes, teeth etc. Dermoplasts are then often used in natural dioramas, i.e. special exhibition panels showing some fragment of the environment (a forest, lake) or a scene from wildlife (feeding, hunting). In conclusion, the collection from Ciężkowice is ideologically based on the idea of both a scientific collection and hunting collections. It has evolved from a hunting collection into a scientific collection.

Elaborated by: Piotr Knaś (Małopolska Institute of Culture),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Discover exhibits in the collection of the Krystyna and Włodzimierz Tomek Natural Science Museum in Ciężkowice:
The European bee-eater
The European roller
Short-toed Eagle
The Albino magpie

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The European bee-eater

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