The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), one of the more common species of butterfly at Ruffner, begins its life cycle as one of these guys, deep green and appearing perpetually determined due to its conspicuous eyespots. These black and yellow markings mimic two large eyes, which scientists believe serve to deter insect-eating predators, such as birds. In this, the fourth instar, or stage, of the caterpillar's life cycle, it is a leafy green. However, in the first three instars, it manifests as a brownish-white in order to mimic bird droppings on leaves. Clearly, the development of this curious creature is intimately and oddly linked to the birds that glide above it. And if the caterpillar is lucky that is exactly where they'll stay.
Join us this Saturday for Visual Ecology with Doug Baulos: Fugitive Nests & Shelters, an eco-arts workshop where participants get the chance to build their very own nest shelter using found objects from the natural world.
After a guided hike, each participant will be given the opportunity to build a small nest shelter for his or her new "nature friend." You will come up with a name, and a way to care for and protect the friend as if it were still in a wilderness environment. A guided meditation journaling module will be included in the project. We hope to see you there!
Wow, what a weekend! We'd like to thank everyone who came out to the first ever Night Festival this past weekend and joined us in celebrating National Moth Week. The atmosphere, the vibes, the food, the art, the conversation, the music—all of it was absolutely magical, and we'd like to thank you, Birmingham, for helping to make it a reality. A very special thanks to Doug Baulos, Michelle Reynolds, Chiharu Roach, the UAB Visual Arts Department, and each of the artists who particpated in Night Festival. Thanks to Stott Noble, John Friel, and Pete Van Zandt for their moth expertise, and thank you to Jasper Lee, Anna Thomas, Nancy Lewis, Rachael Jamison, and Daniel Long for their truly lovely musical performances. Thanks to Good People Brewing and Revelator for such fine eats and brews. Finally, a special thanks to Joshua Blackwell for rocking everybody's world with his culinary delights. I mean, just look at that cake!
If you weren't able to make it to Night Festival, be sure to check out the Alabama Museum of Natural History's Mothfest at Moundville Archaeological Park. Link in bio.
We feel very fortunate at Ruffner to live in a city with such an abundance of green space and folks who value and appreciate the natural world (like the moth). Let's continue working together to build a community that lives as part of, and not apart from, our nature. Till next time, see you on the mountain. 📸: Bob Farley @ bobfarley.photoshelter.com.
The Spring/Summer issue of the Ruffner Mountain zine has finally arrived! In it you will find loads of color illustrations, interviews, science facts, stories, and a whole lot of ecology. A good deal of hard work went into the creation of this, the very first Ruffner zine, so it’s our hope that you cherish it as one more chapter in the Ruffner story.
For Members of Ruffner Mountain, swing by the Nature Center any time during regular operating hours to pick up your copy. Not a Ruffner Member? Don’t worry, because the zine will also be available for purchase on our website and at participating locations around the Birmingham metro area. Keep up with us online and through social media for a complete list of locations!
In observance of Independence Day, the Nature Center will be closed tomorrow, aka the Fourth of July. The gate will remain open, however, so that you can enjoy all of our trails, views, and native flora and fauna. We'd like to wish you and yours a safe, fun, and free Fourth of July. See you on the mountain!
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." – John Muir