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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

TN Naturalist Program holds sixth workshop at Ijams

Under the shade of a sycamore, Jen Roder talks trees

The Tennessee Naturalist Program at Ijams is an ongoing series that introduces participants to the wonder of the state’s amazing natural resources. A total of 16 sessions, each either two, three or four hours long, will be held during 2013. 

Last Saturday was class number 6: "Tennessee Trees and Forest" taught by Jennifer Roder. By the end of the year the attendees will be Certified Tennessee Naturalists. This year's classes are all full, but we are already taking enrollment for 2014 classes. Call Jen at (865) 577-4717, ext. 130 to learn more or sign up.

For more information about the Tennessee Naturalist Program, visit our website at Ijams TN Naturalists. 

TN Naturalist Program Ijams 2013 Schedule

Sat., April 13, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Introduction, followed by lunch

Sat., May 4, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Birding I: Spring Birds

Sat., May 18, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Forbs, Ferns, Fungi and More

Sat., June 1, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. Amphibians

Sat., June 8, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. Reptiles

Sat., June 22, 1 p.m.–5 p.m. Tennessee Trees and Forests

Sat., July 13, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Aquatic Systems

Sat., Aug. 10, 2 p.m.–4 p.m. Insects and Creepy Crawlies

Sat., Aug. 24, Time TBD, Birding II: Hummingbird Festival

Sat., Sept. 7, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Fungus Among Us

Sat., Sept. 21, 7 p.m.–9 p.m. Nocturnal Naturalist I: Ijams Nightlife

Sat., Oct. 5, 7 pm–9 p.m. Nocturnal Naturalist II: Seven Islands

Sat., Oct. 19, 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. Mammals and Furry Friends

Sat., Nov. 9, 1 p.m.–5 p.m. Geology of East Tennessee

Sat., Nov. 23, 9 a.m.–12 p.m., Birding III: Winter Birds

Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Closing Social and Class Projects

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival set for Saturday, August 24

The third annual Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival is Saturday, August 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission: $5, children under six are admitted free.

Presented by the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society and Ijams Nature Center, visitors will have the opportunity to see ruby-throated hummingbirds up-close at a banding demonstration by Mark Armstrong, a certified Master Bander.

Hummingbirds will be harmlessly captured, weighed, measured and banded before being sent on their way.

Banding provides a way to document hummingbird movement during migration. August and September are busy migration months in Tennessee with thousands of hummingbirds moving south on their way to wintering grounds in Central America and southern Mexico.

The festival will also feature speakers on nature topics, wildlife educational demonstrations, guided walks and vendors selling food and drinks, plants, locally made arts and crafts, bird feeders and supplies, garden items and a “Bargain Barn” selling new and gently used merchandise with nature themes.

Speakers include:

• T. David Pitts, Professor of Biology, UT Martin will talk about “The Hummingbirds that Nest in your Yard”.

• Marcia Davis, Birdlife Columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel

• David Unger, Professor of Biology, Maryville College

• Steve McGaffin, Naturalist and Educator for the Knoxville Zoo.

• Lynne McCoy, a local wildlife rehabilitator

Festival sponsors: Wild Birds Unlimited, Perky Pet, Prism Pools and Visionary Horizons Wealth Management.

- Art and photo by Vickie Henderson

Monday, June 24, 2013

Visiting Northern bobwhite, a first for Ijams

Wayward Northern Bobwhite photo by Kristy Keel

If you grew up on a farm or spent lazy Sunday afternoons visiting your grandparents on theirs, you know the sound.

It springs from the fields: a sharply whistled, "bob, bob, whiiiiitttttteeeee."

The song of a Northern bobwhite quail is a part of our collective memory, what the French philosopher Maurice Halbwachs termed "la mémoire collective." Along with the taste of fresh lemonade and newly ripened watermelon warm from the garden, many of us seem to share this memory, or something like it.

We also seem to remember the bobwhite's exuberant call, but few of us have ever actually seen one. 

And, its getting harder to do just that! In 2007, the Audubon Society released a list of the 20 Common Bird Species in Decline. Complied from 40 years of data, the number one bird on the list was the bobwhite. The meadow loving gamebird has suffered a shocking 82 percent decline in overall population in the past four decades.


As the Audubon article penned by Greg Butcher states,"The loss of suitable bobwhite habitat—from large-scale agriculture, intensive pine-plantation forestry, and development—is the most dominant threat to the long-term survival of these common grassland birds. Losses to nest predators, and even fire ants—competing for food, attacking nests, and prompting humans to spray pesticides—also seem to be contributing to the bobwhite's decline."

Documenting the documentor:
Kristy photographing the bobwhite
Imagine then the surprise when Saturday, June 15, former Ijams' AmeriCorps member Kristy Keel found a bobwhite at Ijams (to my knowledge a first, since we do not have proper habitat.) Ijams is mostly wooded with no sprawling meadows.

But there it was, wayward, at the Lower Overlook on the Homesite; more or less at the edge of the forest walking along a trail just like any other Saturday afternoon visitor.

Way to go Kristy for having the acumen to know that it was a very odd bird way out of place! 

- Photos by Kristy Keel. Story by Stephen Lyn Bales. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beautiful morning for a paddle-about

Special thanks to those who came out this morning for an Ijams Paddle-about Mead's Quarry Lake.

The sky was blue, the water was calm and the camaraderie was congenial.

The phoebes are still nesting and several indigo buntings were heard and seen around the quarry.

A good time was had by all.

The next Paddle-about will be Saturday, July 27.

- Stephen Lyn Bales 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

12-year-old celebrates birthday with tour of Ijams critters

Lilah and Abby learn about caring for a snake from Dr. Louise Conrad

Birthday celebrations come in all varieties.

Recently, Abby Garrett (on the right) was treated to a behind the scenes tour of our education animals by Dr. Louise Conrad, Ijams veterinarian. 

Abby learned how all the Ijams education animals from fish to snakes to turtles to owls to one bashful opossum are cared for and how each has special needs.

Abby loves animals and Ijams. Joining her for the birthday outing was her seven-year-old cousin Lilah Von Gruenigen.

- Story and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tarantula celebrates 13th year at Ijams with a shed

Tarantula's molted skin

As a reasonably iron-clad rule, all of our education animals are native. But keeping spiders alive longer than a year is not easy so in the year 2000 we decided to make an exception and buy a Chilean rose-haired tarantula to show students when we talk about Arachnids. What I like to refer to as "spiderology."

Why? Well, tarantulas at easy to care for, they are large and easy to see and they live a long time.

Now, 13 years later our oldest tarantula is still alive. Plus, as spider grow, they have to periodically shed their old tight outer skin. Last week was a cause to celebrate at the nature center. Both of our tarantulas decided it was time to sloth off the old and unveil the new. A rare conjunction of events since we think the last time the older one went through the arduous process of molting was two years ago.

-Story and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Rare spider lily blooms at nature center

Beauty Alert: A somewhat rare—certainly hard to find—and exquisitely beautiful native plant is now in bloom at the nature center near the Universal Pond.

Carolina spider lily (Hymenocallis caroliniana or in some books Hymenocallis occidentalis) is related to several other similar species found in swampy regions around the world. With daffodil-like flowers and outward-spreading, reflexed spurs this wetland loving perennial has the appearance of a white spider, albeit only has six not eight legs. Its stalk is thick like a succulent.

Carolina spider lily is found throughout the South, except Florida, and as far north as Indiana and Illinois. Tennessee is within its known range (mostly the western Mississippi River swampy part of the state) and a check of the UT Herbarium website reveals it hasn't been documented in Knox County. (Ours could have been planted by a long ago landscaper and may not be naturally occurring.)

So finding it is a bit of a challenge; seeing it at Ijams is an unexpected treat.

- Story and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales