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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

WBIR's Live@5@4 brings hour long show to Ijams

The Live@5@4 gang: Emily Stroud, Beth Haynes, Russell Biven and Todd Howell holding cutout of "The Voice" winner Chris Blue

Imagine an entire hour of WBIR's Live@5@4 broadcast live from Ijams. Wow! Wouldn't that be fun!

And indeed that is what happened last Monday, May 22. And all of the smiling-faced Live@5@4 gang were here. We talked about things happening at the nature center this summer and rooted for fellow Knoxvillian Chris Blue to win TV's The Voice. The finals were announced just a few hours later and Blue did indeed win.

Amber Parker 

Ijams new executive director Amber Parker welcomed the WBIRians. Newsman John Becker interviewed summer camp director Christie Collins in kayaks on the river, news anchor Robin Wilhoit and reporter Emily Stroud explored the treetops with Navitat. Stroud also chatted with Stephen Lyn about snakes. 

Co-hosts Russell Biven and Beth Haynes interviewed Dr. Bob Overholt about common summer health concerns and Todd Howell spoke to chef Miss Olivia about summer picnics.  

Also, Ijams Education Director Jen Roder chatted about our oh-so-odd emergence of 17-year-cicadas four years too early and Sarah Brobst spoke of upcoming special events.

Thank you WBIR Live@5@4 producer Lee Ann Bowman for arranging the show and to videographers Brian Holt and Tim Dale for making us all look good.

Was it ready for its close up? Emily, I believe our snake is disappearing into the camera!

Friday, May 19, 2017

2017 TN Naturalists@Ijams visit the world of mammals

 The 2017 edition of TN Naturalists@Ijams held its fourth class last Saturday.  

This class was devoted to mammalogy, the study of mammals.  

Ijams' own part-time veterinarian Dr. Louise Conrad, taught the class. Dr. Louise oversees the care and well being of all the Ijams adopted and injured education animals. She has been connected to the nature center for over 20 years; first as a volunteer, then as part of the staff.

The class began indoors with a mammal class and a visit from our lame opossum then proceeded outdoors for a reconnaissance of places where mammals are generally seen especially along the river and wetland and a look for tracks. The group also had a one-on-one visit with our new adopted inquisitive gray squirrel

This is the fifth year the statewide program has been taught at Ijams. In all, it's 12 classes held once or twice a month until November. After students finish the 40 hours of classes and the required 40 hours of volunteer work, they become certified Tennessee Naturalists.

The next May class focuses on birds.

For a look back at our previous classes, click:

- Supplied photos by naturalist student and commercial photographer 
Kristy Keel-Blackmon. Thank you, Kristy!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Big Bug News: 17-year cicada early emergence still a mystery

Photo by Sofia Tomov

File this under geeky nature nerd news!

Last Wednesday, Jen Roder, Lauren Bird and Ben Nanny noticed curious gold-winged cicadas on and around a sycamore just outside the staff entrance at the Visitor Center. Ben recognized them. He had seen lots of them in May 2004. They were Brood X (10) of 17-year cicadas but the math wasn't right. They shouldn't reappear at Ijams until 2021.

Jen took the lead and got in touch with the national cicada watch group (Click: Cicada Mania). The big question: What was going on? 

Photo by Sofia Tomov

Their speculation was that it was Brood X "stragglers"—an odd appellation considering they were "four years early," said Volunteer Naturalist Rich Henighan. "Shouldn't they be called the 'Vanguard' instead?" he quipped.

Jen located a small plastic box of dead cicadas collected by Stephen Lyn in 2004 and made a second discovery. Unbeknownst to our kindly senior naturalist, thirteen years ago, Ijams actually had two species of 17-year cicadas emerge at the same time: Magicicada septendecium. and probably Magicicada cassini.

The mystery deepened. Did we have two species emerging early or just one?

Or was it a separate population of 2017's Brood VI, displaced?

Photo by Sofia Tomov

Ijams quickly cobbled together a pop-up program last Sunday about cicadas in general and 17-year cicadas in specific.  Thanks to all who attended our Cicad-Academy and to the Goodalls for bringing cicada-cake.

The workshop began indoors with basic cicada information and adjourned outdoors for the fun part: looking for the red-eyed, gold-winged hemipterans.

Early in an emergence, it's almost exclusively males. Later the females join them. Saturday we were finding them low to the ground on shrubs and forbs, by sunny Sunday they had moved to the treetops and were starting to call.

Our search turned up several shed exoskeletons and multiple adults.  Jud even climbed high into a sycamore by the Plaza Pavilion and shook a branch to dislodge more to inspect.

Sofia Tomov, one of our junior naturalists who is all grown up now, got some excellent photos.

More to follow as we learn more. 

Education Director Jen Roder inspecting cicadas collected in 2004.
Dear senior naturalist, "You actually collected two different species in 2004!" Said Roder
Photo by Sofia Tomov
Jen Roder with Lynne Davis and Sharon Burnett inspect a cicada to determine gender and species.
Joseph with shed cicadas exoskeletons

Cicada hunters

Jud literally up the tree to shake down cicadas
Goodall's cicada cake

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pop-up Program: 17-year cicadas, 4 years early? 2 different species?

Education Director Jen Roder examines the specimens collected in May 2004

It's a male, but is it M. cassini
or M. septendecula?
Our Big Bug news just got bigger. It got national. But the mystery deepens.

You do not want to miss this program. We are scrambling to pull it together. Because it's late, call me to register. The national cicada people are going to fly here next week to help us figure out what's going on at Ijams.

The 17-year cicadas that are climbing out of the ground are four years early. They are not due until 2021. Jen located the handful I collected in May 2004 and discovered that 13 years ago we had two different species emerging at the same time. News to me.

"In 2004, there was definitely Magicicada septendecium. It's the big one. The little one is either Magicicada cassini or Magicicada septendecula. I'm leaning toward cassini, but it's hard to tell. The two species are significantly smaller," writes Jen. Their call is the defining identifier and the 2004 specimens are mute.

So what is happening at Ijams now, four years early? Is it one species or two like in 2004? So far it is mostly males emerging. Jen has heard one calling, by Sunday there should be a lot more out and calling.

Sign up for our Cicada-ology Pop-up Program and learn all about our annual cicadas and these 17 year ones in particular. After a short indoor program we will go on a great cicada hunt.

(865) 577-4717, ext. 119

Call Stephen Lyn and leave a voicemail. Leave your name and the number of people with you. You can pay (Members $5, non-members $8) at the Ijams front desk on Sunday afternoon. Be a part of the cicada fun!

Help us solve the mystery. This is nature nerd cool stuff.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Brood X emerging at Ijams Nature Center...four years early!

Fresh from the ground this morning. Photo by Jen Roder

Stop the presses! Nature is amazing!

Recently we have noticed a few small, black cicadas around Ijams. For those of you that know anything about cicadas, this might seem strange. Why, you ask? Because the small black cicadas are periodical cicadas that only emerge every 17 years here in Knoxville. We are in the range of Brood X, a population of cicadas that isn't due to emerge until 2021. But there is a known phenomenon of "straggler" populations that emerge early, depending on the weather and soil conditions. And that is happening now! As our favorite senior naturalist and self-confessed ten-year-old just quipped, "this is so dang cool!"

If you want to learn more, join us this Sunday, May 14 at 2 p.m. for a pop-up program that will teach you about cicadas and even take a walk to observe the periodical cicadas in action! You won't want to miss this program...it only happens once every 13-17 years!

For program information and registration, click here: http://ijams.org/…/ijams-pop-up-program-brood-x-cicadas-at…/

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Dented box turtle was well on the way to healing himself

Dented box turtle was last seen hightailing it into these woods

“Nature seemed to be doing a pretty good job on her own,” said Ijams staff veterinarian Dr. Louise Conrad.

As it turns out, the rescued injured box turtle I reported on a few days ago did NOT need to be rescued.

Visitors at the nature center found him on one of our trails with a dent in his carapace. That was alarming. Dr. Louise promptly took him to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital for x-rays, blood work and observation.

The blood tests turned up no infection or parasites; in fact, the results were that of a totally healthy box turtle. X-rays determined that the injury was an old one and the shell was well on the way to knitting itself back together. And there was no apparent penetration of the internal body cavity at the time of the injury.

The turtle will always have a dented shell, just like you if you broke your leg and did not go to a doctor to have it set properly, it would grow back crooked. That’s the way nature works.

Often animals that appear to be injured or orphaned simply do not need human interference. Baby birds that fall out of nests are found and fed by their parents, even on the ground. And a clutch of baby bunnies found in the tall grass simply needs to be left alone, mom is just away but she’ll be back.

On the other hand, any obviously injured animal should to be taken directly to UT Vet Hospital on Neyland Drive. There are veterinarians there 24-hours a day, seven days a week. UT’s Wild Animal Rescue program is a free service, but it is costly. If you would like to donate money to help them defray costs, click: Wild Animal Medical Treatment

Ijams is not permitted to treat injured animals, but we are permitted by TWRA to adopt an animal that cannot heal well enough to be returned to the wild. We currently are caring for an opossum with a lame front leg, two half-blind owls, four other birds with wing injuries including a turkey vulture that was hit by a truck in North Carolina, plus many others including three box turtles. Their care is also expensive. If you would like to donate to our Animal Care Fund, click Ijams Donation and choose the “Donate Online” option. In the comment box write “Animal Care.”

Ijams has complete faith in the goodness of humanity. And the concern over this poor turtle underscores that faith. Our original post has garnered over 55,000 views and over 160 comments. Yes, some unknown person probably caused the turtle’s injury; but he/she represents a tiny minority.

So, what about the dented box turtle? He has been returned to the woods, his home. Being in the hospital must have been scary. The last time we saw him he was “high-tailing” it—awkward for a critter whose tail is less than an inch off the ground—into the woods. (See above photo.)

Thank you for all your well wishes!