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Firefly Fancy

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Firefly Fancy
shared by Melissa Donahue, Naturalist 
melissa.donahue@nashville.gov
Late May 2020

The light is fading behind the hackberry tree in the backyard.  I am sitting on my back porch with a soft head on my shoulder.  Whispering quietly, we are settling down for one of my favorite early summer activities with some of my favorite people.  The day has been warm, but the night is pleasant and not muggy.  We peer into the night with great anticipation.  We, my husband and two grandchildren and I, are looking for the first firefly of the evening. 




There are 136 species for fireflies in Middle Tennessee with Photinus pyralsis being the most familiar.  At least 19 of these species are found in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Our plan was to be camping in the Great Smoky Mountains this year.  The main attraction this time of year is the synchronized fireflies near the Elkmont campground.  This species, Photinus carolinus, is the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their fl…

Life in the Soil

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Shared by Kim Bailey
Naturalist at the Nature Center
kim.bailey@nashville.gov
Photos credit Kim Bailey unless otherwise noted

Spring is the time of year I most enjoy gardening. When the songs of migrating birds aren’t distracting me, I turn my attention to the greening trees and emerging plants and sink my hands into the soil. And being the critter lover that I am, I always look forward to the surprises that I inevitably uncover as I dig.   

Some years ago, I began to appreciate soil for what it is: a rich and varied habitat as diverse as its inhabitants. All those air spaces between the soil particles are filled with animals that range from microscopic nematodes feeding on bacteria, fungi and each other to the incredibly adaptive, shovel-pawed mole who moves through its landscape like a swimmer in water! Once I saw a mole emerge from a hole in the ground, run across the driveway, and dig a new hole in a matter of seconds. He literally disappeared before I could finish yelling “look at the…

Waiting for the Birds

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Shared by Rachel Anderson
Naturalist at the Nature Center rachel.anderson@nashville.gov
The first day Doug and I moved into our current home, I started a bird journal.  My first entry -- on August 31, 2001--there was a Blue-winged Warbler and a Black-throated green Warbler in a black locust tree.
I now have nearly 20 years of observations written down – mostly about birds, but also about salamanders, wildflowers, butterflies, lichens … but mostly birds.

Bouquets of (Yard) Flowers

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Shared by Heather Gallagher
Naturalist at the Nature Center
heather.gallagher@nashville.gov

My husband and I are the “yard people” in our neighborhood. He works tirelessly every Saturday to cut and trim our shrubs and grass to make everything perfect.  But there is still life in the yard, and this “staycation” has given me the opportunity to find it. He’s allowed me to plant a few natives, such as this coral honeysuckle, with the understanding that it will attract ruby-throated hummingbirds as it comes into full bloom in early April. And we have the redbud trees flowering this time of year, covered in early spring pollinators.



We even have a few old timey shrubs that you would expect to find in any Tennessee yard: golden forsythia and budding-out sweet shrub. We also have irises—they came with the house.