While the Tennessee Aquarium is best known for giant catfish, colorful trout and steely-eyed sharks, there are a lot of birds to discover as well. Kevin Calhoon, the Aquarium's assistant curator of forests, loves sharing his knowledge of his "feathered friends." In the image above, Kevin points out some of the unique adaptations of the gentoo and macaroni penguins to summer campers. People of all ages enjoy quizzing this expert about all kinds of birds. He's a world traveler, seeking out every opportunity to record sighting a new species. And his trip reports are wonderful. Here's a little bit about his recent journey to Jamaica.ust returned from a very successful six day trip birding Jamaica. Most people think of Jamaica as the land of beautiful beaches, jerk chicken and reggae, but there is so much more to see there. Large tracts of the interior mountain forests are pretty much intact which is habitat for a very rich, diverse bird population. This island has 28 endemic bird species (species no found no where else on earth) which is a high number for such a small land mass. With the help of local guides we saw all 28 endemics (34 lifebirds for trip) plus several more West Indies (Caribbean)endemics. This trip was inexpensive and I would recommend it highly.
Here are a couple of shots of the Red-billed Streamertail. (Above) This endemic hummingbird is the Jamaican national bird and is certainly one of the more spectacular hummers in the world!
This is a photo I took of the Jamaican Tody ; very high on warm, fuzzy, cuddly scale. For rest of my Jamaica gallery try: http://1mergman.smugmug.com/Other/Jamaica-February-19-25-2012/21727109_H3gX94#!i=1737796100&k=6mwHVk8
Would you like to see great birds in a tropical setting? If so, Kevin is leading a Tennessee Aquarium members trip along with Jennifer Latour, Tennessee Aquarium Education Coordinator, to the beautiful Apalachicola Bay and St George Bay region of Franklin County of the Gulf Coast of Florida April 12 – April 15. (Register by March 29th.) The group will be taking a special trip to the secluded barrier island habitats of St Vincent island, walking through salt marshes, and eating a lot of the local sustainable seafood including a Low Country Boil on the private beaches of Little St. George Island. This trip may coincide with the peak of spring bird migration in this region. Many neotropical migrant songbirds will be finishing off their amazing sprint across the Gulf of Mexico. Shorebirds and marsh birds should be everywhere. Kevin will make sure to point out any special birds that trip members would like to see. The endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker and secretive Bachman’s Sparrow are found in the pine woods nearby. So come join us for great birding, beautiful scenery and great food! Click here to learn more about this travel adventure.
To register, call Travel Coordinator Betty Miles at 423-785-3008 or 800-262-0695, ext. 3008.