- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Stephen Lyn Bales, editor

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ijams educators celebrate with 'Holidays at Hogwarts'

Magic of Nature brewed at Ijams

Recently, the Ijams education department hosted Holidays at Hogwarts, a celebration of the magic of nature. 

Participants, ages 5 and up, took their favorite First Year courses including Care of Magical Creatures, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration. 

Parents took a break from hectic shopping, and joined us as we transformed Ijams into a world of witchcraft and wizardry! 

Great fun was had by all, especially the wizardly teaching staff!

Holiday at Hogwarts wizardly teaching staff

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stephen Lyn speaks at Foothills Land Conservancy meeting

In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Tuesday, December 18, 6:30 p.m.
Location: Blount Memorial Wellness Center 
220 Associates Blvd. - Alcoa, TN

Stephen Lyn Bales, an Ijams senior naturalist and author, will speak tomorrow evening about his latest book Ghost Birds: Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, 1935-1941

It is the compelling story of Jim Tanner, the only ornithologist to conduct an in-depth study of the largest woodpecker to live in the United States, the legendary ghost bird of the South. Tanner’s fieldwork in the 1930s while a grad student at Cornell University provide a detailed look into the natural history of this species that may or may not be extinct.
Several copies of Ghost Birds have been donated by UT Press to Foothills Land Conservancy and they will be available for sale during the presentation with 100 percent of the proceeds going to FLC. They will make great holiday gifts!
Bales has a second book, called Natural Histories, and has also written for Smithsonian magazine and is a regular contributor to The Tennessee Conservationist magazine. Bales is also a regular speaker at Wilderness Wildlife Week and other venues.
For more info, please call Elise at (865) 681-8326.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Clean windows: a nightmare for birds

Ijams wildlife biologist Pam Petko-Seus comforts a young yellow-bellied sapsucker that had just flown into a window in the Visitor Center. Luckily, it was able to pull itself together and fly away.

What is the number one killer of birds in this country? Is it hunters? Or perhaps cats?

Well, actually it’s neither.

It’s estimated that hunters kill roughly 15 million waterfowl a year. Hunting season is carefully managed and it is only legal to kill game birds in season.

Cars may kill 60 million birds annually. 

Collisions with high-tension lines may kill up to 174 million birds per year. And it’s estimated that domestic and feral cats may kill as many as 500 million birds per year.

BUT, the number one killer of birds is the seemingly benign panes of glass we all have in our homes and office buildings. Yes, glass. It’s estimated that window strikes perhaps kill as many as 976 million birds a year. That’s almost one billion!

A bird doesn’t see the glass but rather the reflection of the sky. It flies into an illusion (I think many of us are guilty of that) but for a bird, it often breaks its neck.

What can you do? Place decals, tape strips of ribbon, dark paper hawk silhouettes or some other object on the surface to let a bird know that there is something more there than meets the eye.

The above sapsucker flew into one of the windows that we do not have a decal on. Pam was able to pick up and hold the bleary-eyed thing, keeping it warm, thus avoiding shock. In time, it recovered and flew away. 

A silhoulette of a raptor taped on a window is often all that is needed to prevent birds from flying into the glass. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reclaiming the land: Capping a 2.5 acre brownfield at Ijams

Years ago, the quarries section of the park was mined for limestone marble. A lime kiln, operated by the Williams Lime Manufacturing company, burned the waste limestone to make quicklime. The lime was sold for agriculture and was also used in smelting iron, white wash paint, plaster, cement and gun powder.  

The waste material from the kiln was dumped all around the property.  The area across from the quarries parking lot, north of the greenway, is now being reclaimed. The Blount Excavating Company is currently bringing in fill soil from construction sites at the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee School for the Deaf. 

- Story by Ed Yost. Photos by Stephen Lyn Bales.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ijams' new addition adds to Knoxville's Urban Wilderness

Ijams new addition (Burnett Property) adds more green space to
Knoxville's Urban Wilderness network of trails.

Following the acquisition of a new 22-acre property, Ijams Nature Center has expanded to 300 acres, further enhancing the South Loop on Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness

The new property, which lies between Sevierville Pike and Ijams’ Quarries (left side of the above map), is also a critically important wooded ridge top in South Knoxville. Adding it to existing acreage ensures that natural views are forever protected and new trails will provide opportunities for both active and passive recreation.

The seller, Mr. Jon Burnett, has long envisioned his property to be a part of the Ijams Park. Mr. Burnett grew up near the original Ijams family home on Island Home Avenue and his sister, Helene, was a close friend of Mary Ijams, one of the Ijams daughters. Mr. Burnett also served as attorney for the City of Knoxville and was an early Ijams Board Member during the 1960s. The Burnett family is now thrilled that their land will be preserved and enjoyed by all for years to come.

The property, including several miles of new multi-use trails will open to the public in early 2013.

For more information about Knoxville's Urban Wilderness go to: Outdoor Knoxville

- Story by Paul James

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Knoxville Garden Club sponsors new Arboretum Trail

Ijams Nature Center and the Knoxville Garden Club jointly celebrated a new trail experience at Ijams in September 2012. 

The Arboretum Trail, featuring 38 species of trees, is sponsored by the Knoxville Garden Club, which has enjoyed a longstanding partnership with Ijams. Significantly, the new trail also commemorates the Garden Club of America’s Centennial celebration throughout 2013 and therefore is a direct tribute to the Garden Club of America Legacy Tree Initiative.

The Knoxville Garden Club played a pivotal role in establishing the original Ijams Nature Park on the Ijams family grounds in 1965. Since then, the park has grown to encompass almost 300 protected acres with a strong educational mission to encourage environmental stewardship through engaging outdoor experiences for all people.

In addition to tree identification markers, a series of interpretative signs help visitors develop a better understanding of the rich diversity of trees throughout the park and the important role trees play in our environment. The trail meanders from the Visitor Center over to the Home Site.

- Story by Paul James. Signs written by Jennifer Roder. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Charge it! Plug in your electric vehicle at Ijams

Sustainability Report #6

An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, supplies electric energy for the recharging of plug-in electric vehicles, including all-electric cars, neighborhood electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. 

As of June 2012, the United States had almost 8,000 public charging stations, of which about 2,000 are located in California. Norway, the world's leader in electric car ownership per capita, has 3,239 free public charging points.

Knoxville is home to a growing number of electric vehicles. And now owners can charge their autos at Ijams! Look for the blue sign in the parking lot near the hawk enclosure.

The charging stations are among a series of units installed around Knoxville as part of an EV Project, which is introducing Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt electric vehicles in test markets across the country. 

The EV Project has been coordinated by the City of Knoxville and is a partnership between ECOtality, Nissan North America and General Motors. 

Find more stations at: EV locations

Owners must be registered with Blink and have a Blink card to use the EV Chargers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fall Fairy House Festival held at Ijams

Last Saturday, Ijams celebrated the golden beauty of autumn with a Fall Fairy House Festival. A total of 49 natural gnome and fairy abodes (plus a few hobbit holes) were built by young visitors and their families in the fading light of a warm autumnal sun.  

Ijams provided all the earthy materials the youthful builders needed. They in turn brought the creativity, proving again that in natural play, all a child needs are sticks, berries, leaves and a little imagination. 

You really do not have to spend hundreds of dollars on toys and video games for your young ones when good old-fashioned sticks will do. Speaking of such: the humble stick—the mainstay of creative play for centuries—was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2008. For the complete list of other (more expensive) honorees go to Toy Hall of Fame. Oh, what fun!

After the builders finished their fairy houses, we are told that after dark the woodland sprites ventured forth to take up residence in their newly constructed village.

- Jennifer Roder. Photos by Stephen Lyn Bales. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

UT releases rehabilitated woodcock at Ijams

American woodcock (Scolopax minor)

Last Thursday morning, the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine released an American woodcock at Ijams Nature Center.  

The native bird, an upland member of the shorebird family, had been dropped off at the school Monday by a local resident who found it in his garage.  

“We didn’t want to release it when it was really cold,” said Dr. Michael Jones, associate professor of Avian, Exotic Pet, and Zoological Medicine explaining why they held it for a few days.  

“We wanted it to have as much daylight as possible to adjust to its new surroundings.” He also explained they would prefer to release it as close as possible to its original site, but the person who dropped it off did not leave that information.  Since the bird’s home site was unknown, “What better place to release it than Ijams?”

The team opened the box they transported the bird in on site where the South and North Cove trails converge.  After a couple of minutes it hopped and flew about 20 yards until it was out of sight.  The woodcock was not banded and will not be tracked.

Members of the public are reminded not to release animals they have found on their property or elsewhere at the nature center.  Ijams does not accept wild or domestic animals, but can answer questions and make some referrals to rehabilitators.

- Story by Charlie Morgan

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's harvest time at Ijams!

The Ijams fall garden is ready to harvest! 

Thanks to Jeff and Soky Allen at Colonial Hardware on Chapman Highway, we have a bumper crop of jalapeño, cayenne, sweet green and hot banana peepers. 

Back in August, Jeff and Soky donated over 50 pepper plants to us. Our garden volunteers put them in the ground and we are enjoying their efforts with this our first of many pickings. 

Call Sarah Brobst  at 577-4717 ext 124 if you would like to volunteer at Ijams. Be part of our garden brigade and work in Alice’s Garden. We will be gardening on Thursdays this fall.

- Text and photos by Peg Beute

Ijams organic garden in August.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AEF rehabilitated redtails released at Ijams

John Martin, reporter from WBIR-Channel 10, interviewed Nancy and Hannah before the release.

This morning, Nancy Zagaya and intern Hannah Start with the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) located in Pigeon Forge, released two rehabilitated red-tailed hawks at Ijams on the main campus near the Visitor Center. 

Both birds are wild and were found injured in Knox County. They were treated at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine before being transferred to the American Eagle Foundation for rehabilitation.  

This is truly a labor of love to be able to return these birds to the wild. Seeing them fly was very inspiring.  

- Text by Pam Petko-Seus, photos by Stephen Lyn Bales

AEF intern Hannah Start from Birmingham, England releases first hawk.

Vet tech Nancy Zagaya, releases second redtail.

Rehabilitated redtail surveys her new home. 

Click for story on WBIR website: red-tails

Monday, August 20, 2012

'My Kid's First Canoe Trip' proved memorable

Billed as "My Kid's First Canoe Trip," the early morning outing on Ijams Quarry Lake turned out to be a memorable one this past Saturday.

It was beautiful. The sun hadn't risen above the low-hanging clouds to the east, so conditions on the water were dream like. It was a wonderful time for parent and child to bond. 

A good time was had by all. 

(Personal note: special thanks to Peg Beute and Kara Remington for coming to my aid. They really were a life saver.)

- Text and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Second Annual KTOS HummerFest held at Ijams

Hummingbird Fest

The second annual KTOS Hummingbird Festival was recently held at Ijams. 

Ruby-throated hummingbird specialists Bob and Martha Sargent spoke about what they have learned about the species after a lifetime of study. Chattanooga plant expert Chris Mahoney was also on hand to speak about the flowers that hummingbirds love, while Mark Armstrong held a hummingbird banding demonstration on the back terrace of the Visitor Center. 

Special thanks to Billie Cantwell and the rest of the KTOS members who organized the affair, sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited, Bob and Martha Sargent, Mark Armstrong, Jane Kading, Mindy Fawver and Vickie Henderson.

Mark Armstrong, Curator of Birds at the Knoxville Zoo, is a local licensed bird bander.

Before the bird is banded, it is weighed, measured and the gender is determined.

How big is a band that fits on a hummingbirds leg? 
Eighteen of the tiny metal rings will fit on one side of a small safety pin.

Male ruby-throated hummingbird.

And what would a festival be without food, plants, arts and crafts? Outside, on the plaza, a wide range of items were sold by local, smiling vendors. Here's a small sampling:

Thanks to Marcia Davis for writing about the event in her News Sentinel column

Photos by Linda McGill and Pam Petko-Seus. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

AEF fledges three birds-of-prey at Ijams

Broad-winged hawk takes its first flight.

Nancy Zagaya, president of The East Tennessee Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, fledged three young birds at Ijams two weeks ago. For all three, it was their first flight.

The young birds—two screech owls and a broad-winged hawk—had been rescued from crows and raised at the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge. Summer Day Camp kids on-hand that day were there to watch the birds first venture into flight.

- Stephen Lyn Bales