- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 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.