Monday, March 28, 2016

10th trip to Panther Nation

Last Monday, I paid a visit to Will Roberts' AP Environmental Science class at Powell High School, a.k.a. Panther Nation. It has become a biannual tradition.

This is Roberts biggest class ever: 31 students! We talked about conservation, urban wildlife, book writing and my job at Ijams Nature Center. Each student had been assigned to read a portion of one of my two books: Natural Histories or Ghost Birds and ask questions about what they had read.

Topics we visited included nature journaling, bald eagles, opossums, wild turkeys, red pandas, the importance of journalism, my favorite places in the Great Smokies and my favorite topic in my first book: periodical cicadas, including the time we ate deep-fried cicadas on live TV. But that's show business.

Best of luck to all of you! Thanks, Will.

The beautiful blue bodied periodical cicada with golden wings and red eyes. Delicious when deep-fried. Photo by David M. Stone.
For more about the periodical cicada, 

Click these links for a look back at past visits:

Fall 2015

Spring 2015

Fall 2014

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Today at Ijams

Happy Easter!

The weather is going to be prefect for a visit to Ijams.

Stop by the Visitor Center or take a walk in the woods. We have a Free Animal Program and Chat every hour: Noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. 

Snake, kestrel, owl, spider, turtle, hawk, you never know what I'll have with me. Heck, I might even wake up the opossum.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

27th River Rescue

Join us for the 27th Annual River Rescue and help us clean up the local river and creek shorelines on

Saturday, April 2, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

For more information, click the Ijams facebook page

or go to the Ijams website: River Rescue

Volunteer and the above dragonfly t-shirt can be yours!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

a fast 16 years

WBIR's Beth Haynes on the set of Live@5@4
Ijams' organized cleanup of local waterways, River Rescue, is scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

In March 2000, I first appeared on WBIR's Live@5. That time it was to talk about the 11th Annual River Rescue. Yesterday, I was on Live@5@4 to talk about the 27th Annual River Rescue. For those good at math, that's a fast 16 years.


But, the good news: There is less trash/litter than there once was along area waterways. 

For more information about the volunteer-driven cleanup of local river and creek shorelines, click: River Rescue or call Lauren: 577-4717, ext. 135.

For today's interview with Host Beth Haynes, click: Live@5@4!

Volunteer for 2013 River Rescue

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Froggy-ology 101

Thank you to all who attended today's Froggy-ology 101 class at Ijams.

It was cool today so the frogs were not calling. But we found frog eggs, tadpoles and more newts than you could shake a dip net at. Plus, one single American toad, away from the water, doing what toads do in March, just trundling along.

Great fun!

Frog eggs

American toad

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thank you Norris

Today I visited the Norris Women's Club to talk about the Migratory Birds that will soon be winging their way through the Tennessee Valley on their way to their breeding grounds. We're talking vireos, thrushes and wood warblers among others.

This was my fifth visit in five years. Call it a tradition. Thank you for your gracious hospitality. Thank you, Loretta, for working out the details. See you in 2017.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Watch for one of my favorites,
American yellow warblers (Setophaga petechia)

Monday, March 14, 2016

tender voices

"Sing on there in the swamp,
O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call,
I hear, I come presently, I understand you"*

Although Whitman was thinking about his beloved hermit thrush, I think the lines fit just as well with the chorus frogs that have been calling from the local wetlands the past few weeks.

Creeeeeeeeak! Creeeeeeeak! Creeeeeeeak!

These tiny, tiny frogs do exemplify Whitman's all out lust—to the point of being erotic—for nature and all of its yearnings. Its seasonal rhythms. Its cries and whispers.

There are several chorus frogs in the above photo. Do you see them? Perhaps not. They're much too bashful and tender to see. But you sure can hear them.

"Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.
O liquid and free and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul -- O wondrous singer!"*

* Lines from "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" by Walt Whitman

Friday, March 11, 2016

scribes all

Let us sit in the warm sun and read our five senses poems. All part of the Girl Scout Scribe badge workshop last Sunday at Ijams. (We also wrote a news story, a restaurant review [now I know were not to eat] and mini-biographies.)

These young scribes were such fun to work with. All of them wrote, but the true writers wrote and wrote and wrote, almost setting their pencils on fire. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The hummers are coming

Thank you ladies of the Farragut Garden Club. This morning I visited them to talk about getting ready for the hummingbirds that will soon return to our backyards.

To track the progress north of ruby-throated hummingbirds, click: Journey North.

Thank you, Sandra and Sandra.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Wild Birds indeed

Thanks to my friends at Wild Birds Unlimited7240 Kingston Park—for inviting me to speak about my favorite topic: Owl-ology 101

Last Saturday, we discussed the six species of owl that can be found in East Tennessee. Plus, one of the Ijams adopted injured screech-owls made an appearance, much to the oohs and ahhs of the audience.

Thanks, Liz, Tiffiny and Warren.

Below photos by Warren Hamlin.  

With Liz Cutrone
Thanks, Tiffiny

Friday, March 4, 2016

welcomed guests

Drs. Greenacre, Hooimeijer and Pepperberg

Ijams welcomed Dr. Irene Pepperberg DVM and Dr. Jan Hooimeijer DVM, guests of UT's Dr. Cheryl Greenacre DVM. 

Pepperberg and Hooimeijer were in town to take part in an Avian Behavior Workshop particularly for people who own parrots. Both are noted for their work with the birds in captivity.

Dr. Pepperberg, associate research professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and teacher of animal cognition at Harvard, is also respected for her highly acclaimed book "Alex & Me,"  about her experience with her own pet African grey parrot.

Dr. Hooimeijer is something of a "parrot whisperer." He is the owner of an avian clinic in Meppel, Netherlands and the founder and president of the Society of Parrot. He is also the founder of the Dutch Parrot Walks, the inspiration for the Foundation's Parrot Promenade, stressing the importance of the development of a strong social relationship between parrots and people.

After the Friday and Saturday workshops, I gave them a tour of the nature center including a walk along the River Trail on a chilly Sunday. 

Thank you, Dr. Greenacre, who oversees the health and well-being of the captive animals at the nature center.