Get Back to Nature with UNC Ashevilleflowers are starting to blossom. With each passing morning the melody of birds chirping outside gets just a little bit louder. Why not get out and enjoy the sites and sounds? Take a tour with UNC Asheville and learn something new about all the diverse wildlife these mountains contain.
UNC Asheville's Biology Department will celebrate Appalachian nature with its 39th annual Spring Wildflower and Bird Pilgrimage April 29 through May 1. Sixteen special events, including talks and guided tours, will focus on local flora and fauna. All are open to the public.
The popular annual celebration begins with registration at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, in the lobby of UNC Asheville's Robinson Hall. The registration fee is $5 for adults and $1 for students and covers all events.
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Following registration, botanist Tim Spira will present "Wildflower Ecology of Rich Cove Forests: The Most Species-Rich Community in the Southern Appalachian Mountains," at 7:30 p.m. in UNC Asheville's Robinson Hall Auditorium. The talk will explore the natural history of favorite wildflowers, including trillium, bloodroot, jewelweed, mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, foamflower, and yellow lady's slipper, as well as some of the prominent trees and shrubs of rich cove forests.
Events on Saturday, April 30, include nine guided tours and activities. The outings feature both morning and afternoon half-day adventures such as a birding trip through Craven Gap, beginner's tree and wildflower identification trips and a nature walk to Ray Mine.
The day will conclude with a presentation by Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, professor of ecology and environmental science at Brevard College, at 7:30 p.m. in UNC Asheville's Robinson Hall Auditorium. The author of "Mountain Nature: A Seasonal Natural History of the Southern Appalachians," Frick-Rupert will present a talk, "Why is there Such High Biodiversity in the Southern Appalachians?"
Events on Sunday, May 1, include a birding trip to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, a trip to the Craggy Mountains to explore old growth sites and a wildflower walk in the Shinn Gardens.
Coinciding with the Spring Wildflower and Bird Pilgrimage is the "A Day in the Gardens" festival. The two-day celebration includes plant and craft vendors, food and entertainment from 1-6 p.m. Friday, April 29, and from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, April 30, in the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, 151 W.T. Weaver Blvd., adjacent to campus.
For more information about UNC Asheville's Spring Wildflower and Bird Pilgrimage, call David Clarke, UNC Asheville associate professor of biology, at 828/232-5151 or visit www.unca.edu/biology.