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Hot Summer Days in a Butterfly Haze

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Shared by Kim Bailey, Naturalist kim.bailey@nashville.gov All photos courtesy Kim Bailey except where noted July 2021 Some people count sheep to go to sleep, but nature center staff and volunteers count butterflies for the pure joy of it – at least for the first few hours of a day-long count. Once the Sun rises in the sky and the sweat begins to pour down our faces, the enthusiasm wanes. But being dedicated citizen scientists, we trudge on.  Red-spotted Purple butterflies are black and blue like many swallowtailed-butterflies, but lack the "swallowtail".  Three butterfly counts take place each year in May, July and September. The data we collect on these all-day counts is sent to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) , an organization formed to protect and track butterflies across the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Begun in 1993, the data has proved to be an important tool for monitoring butterfly populations and studying the effects of weather and habitat change on Nort

Back to a “Normal” Summer at Warner Park Nature Center

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Shared by Vera Roberts, Warner Park Nature Center Manager vera.roberts@nashville.gov Late June 2021 Throughout the month of June, my senses are always filled with summer – birds singing breeding songs, frogs plucking banjo chords, fragrances of blossoms seen and unseen, and dappled sunlight filtering through the canopy, all within a patchwork of dense green forest.   During the summer of 2020 my senses were again on sensory overload, but what was different was coming to work every day during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature was thriving, but humans were struggling. At the nature center, we were socially distancing and masked up, strictly following all of the protocols to keep everyone safe and virus free.  The masked trail crew working on the trail in summer 2020. Programs were virtual, camps were canceled, staff and volunteers were staggering schedules, working from home, doing whatever possible to keep operations going.  And while the Park was busy, virus anxiety permeated

The Soul of Summer

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The Soul of Summer By Rachel Anderson, Naturalist rachel.anderson@nashville.gov June 2021 Winter in Tennessee is quiet, still, sometimes with a soft hiss of falling snow, sometimes punctuated by sharp, dry sounds of branches creaking and birds making quick call-notes and chips. Spring is a marvelous cacophony of sounds that energize and invigorate – a riotous blend of insects and birds trilling and singing.  Fall is all crunchy and coarse, the dry leaves a perfect amplifier for anything falling or moving on them.  But Summer is something special, and of all the seasons, I love the sounds of Summer in Tennessee the most.  Summer sounds always transport me back to those long, carefree, relaxing Summers as a child, where I was lucky enough to roam free in my nearby woods all day long. Summer sounds seem endless to me, even pleasantly monotonous, and they are certainly soothing.  This is how I hear Summer… Rain falling on a thick canopy of green leaves – each individual drop a staccato not

Migratory Birds Nesting in Tennessee

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Shared by Kim Bailey, Naturalist kim.bailey@nashville.gov Late May 2021 Have you noticed that bird chatter fills the air wherever you go these days? Not only are year-round resident birds such as cardinals and chickadees singing and nesting, but some recent migrants are too. Male songbirds who have spent the winter feeding in the tropics have been arriving throughout April and May to stake out their territory, which they claim by singing. This is why you see birders out en masse during the spring – there are a slew of newly-arrived bird species to see and hear! Let’s meet a few of the birds that spend their winters in the tropics but their summers nesting in Tennessee: The Northern Cardinal may rule the winter landscape with his brilliant red plumage, but in the summer, two other red birds vie for our attention. The male Scarlet Tanager is so striking, it graces the cover of Kenn Kaufmann’s Birds of North America . Its coal black wings against scarlet red plumage is breathtaking. It al

A Garden for the "Birds"

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A Garden for the "Birds"! Shared by Sandy Bivens, BIRD Program sandy.bivens@nashville.gov Photo credit given May 2021 What is a “bird garden”?  A garden designed for birds is a garden that provides a place for birds to live, eat, drink, raise a family, winter and serves as an important stopover site for birds migrating through the area.  Rose-breasted Grosbeaks stopover and fill up while migrating north in spring. Courtesy Alan Plummer Swainson's Thrush eating Rough-leafed Dogwood berries by Alan Plummer Field Sparrow family by Sandy Bivens A garden for birds is a garden for butterflies, moths, caterpillars, insects, pollinators, bats, bees, worms, skinks, turtles, beetles, frogs, voles, wildlife and native plants.  Giant Swallowtail on Ironweed by Charlie Currry Cecropia Moth caterpillar on Black Gum leaves by Sandy Bivens                                              A bird garden can be small, large, urban, rural, in the sun, in the shade, in the woods or in a field; on