Spring wildflower and bird pilgrimage

Celebrate Appalachian nature with the 39th-annual Spring Wildflower and Bird Pilgrimage April 29-May 1, with a line-up of 16 hikes, talks and guided tours on local flora and fauna. The program is sponsored by UNC Asheville’s Biology Department and is open to the public.

Events on Saturday, April 30, include 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. 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.

Botanist Tim Spira will kick off the weekend with a talk called “Wildflower Ecology of Rich Cove Forests: The Most Species-Rich Community in the Southern Appalachian Mountains,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, 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.

At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening, learn why the Southern Appalachians have such astounding biodiversity from Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, professor of ecology and environmental science at Brevard College and author of Mountain Nature: A Seasonal Natural History of the Southern Appalachians.

Registration begins a 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. 828.232.5151 or www.unca.edu/biology.

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.

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