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        Love More, Live Wilder

        Batty for Bats!

        Batty for Bats!

        We are excited to partner with Joanne Wasdin, a Naturalist with the Bear Creek Nature Center, for a series of blogs focused on our own local critters of the Southeast! Bear Creek Nature Center is a private non-profit located outside of Atlanta, Georgia that aims to spread the joy of nature and the outdoor world.

        Meet Joanne!

        Of the 45 bat species present in North America, up to 16 of those species call the Southeastern United States home. Bats are vital parts of our local ecosystems and critical species in the future of agriculture and economics in our country. Though small (the largest bat species in the Southeast is only 5 inches on average!) bats are mighty critters, particularly in their speed and agility during flight. A single bat can eat thousands of mosquitoes in one night, and as a group of organisms they save the United States billions of dollars each year in pest control across industries. Bats are also active pollinators, and contribute to the biodiversity of native flowers and plants. Unfortunately, while bats are powerhouses in their ecological niche, they are particularly susceptible to human impacts. Habitat loss, including loss of critical habitat for their insect prey, has led to the decline of many bat species. This, coupled with the battle against white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease that has been infecting bat species across North America, has threatened the stability of many bat species. But there is hope!

        Endangered Gray bat recorded during a Bat Blitz survey event.
        Photo Credit: A-Z ANIMALS - Vicky B. Smith

        Close-up of a Freetail bat. 
        Photo Credit: A-Z ANIMALS - Vicky B. Smith

        The Hoary Bat is the largest bat on average in the Southeast, and is still smaller than the palm of a hand. 
        Photo Credit: A-Z ANIMALS - Vicky B. Smith

        At Bear Creek Nature Center, we believe in inviting community members of all ages into the active process of conservation. Bat conservation begins with understanding.  There are many ways in which the average citizen can contribute to conservation, whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural landscape. Building and installing bat houses, cultivating native pollinator plants through decorative landscaping and gardens, polyculture agricultural practices, maintaining and limiting human interaction with culverts and caves, keeping our streams and creeks clean, and participating in public education are some of the ways that we can all do our part.

        Southeastern Myotis bats huddled in a culvert.
        Photo Credit: A-Z ANIMALS - Vicky B. Smith

         One member of our team that can help us to further appreciate bats is our resident animal ambassador, Tuttle. He is a native species to most of the United States known as a Big Brown Bat (”Big” in this case means about two inches from nose tip to rump!). Tuttle was injured by a cat, and lost part of his left wing rendering him incapable of flight. There is a dark adage in wildlife that goes, “A down bat is a dead bat.” Bats depend on flight for their entire life story. Luckily, Tuttle was able to be rescued and rehabilitated by AWARE Wildlife, a local rehabilitation center in the Atlanta metropolitan area. He has since joined the cabin at Bear Creek Nature Center to advocate for his species, and many other bats. We hope to continue education efforts in this region to spread the appreciation and understanding of creatures like Tuttle the Big Brown Bat.
        If you ever come across an injured bat, please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Animal Help Now is a wildlife emergency hotline that can help direct you to a licensed rehabber in your area. Please contact them through ahnow.org

         "Tuttle" the Big Brown Bat

         "Tuttle" the Big Brown Bat

        Want to learn more about bats? Here are a few resources to help:

        • Learn how to provide bat houses and habitats through Habitat for Bats, LLC (https://www.habitatforbats.org/)
        • Visit the US Forest Service for an introduction to building pollinator-friendly gardens and agricultural spaces: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/gardening.shtml
        • Visit your state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or USDA website for specific help on how you can implement native pollinator and bat-friendly spaces and practices into your daily life.

        Would you like to personally support Tuttle? Just $3 can feed Tuttle for a week! Visit ko-fi.com/bearcreekATL to donate a bite to eat. You can learn more about Tuttle and his fellow animal ambassadors by visiting Bear Creek Nature Center on Facebook or Instagram (@bearcreekATL) and at bearcreeknaturecenter.org. We are just one of thousands of small, local nature centers across the US that work toward the welfare of native animals and community development through conservation and education. 

        For the bats,
        Joanne Wasdin, Naturalist

        Opossum Blossom!

        Opossum Blossom!

        We are so pleased to offer our platform to Christy Ramirez, a volunteer and board member at Opie Acres Wildlife and Opossum Rehabilitation in Chattanooga, Tennessee as well as at Lookout Mountain Conservancy who wrote a guest blog for us to advocate for an often misunderstood creature, the Opossum. 

        These opossums were delivered to Christy at home and were taken directly to a local wildlife rehab. Opossums, like all wild animals, are not pets.

        I’m so excited and thankful for Sipsey Wilder’s upcoming addition of the “Opossum Blossom” print to their collection. Opossums are under-appreciated animals that play such an important role in the health of ecosystems, not only in the Southeast, but all over our country. They are opportunist omnivores that can individually consume thousands of ticks in a season and can even eat poisonous snakes due to their immunity to certain venoms. Many people incorrectly think that these non-aggressive, nocturnal cuties are rabies carriers, however this is a misconception. In fact, an opossum’s body temperature is too low for the rabies virus to thrive. 

        As North American’s only marsupial, a female opossum can give birth to more than 20 joeys at a time.  However, only 13 have the potential to survive once they travel up to the pouch and latch on to one of their mom’s 13 nipples. Once in Mom’s pouch, they will spend months there until they get big enough to climb out and hitch a ride on her back. 

        Although opossums are amazing and adorable, it’s important to remember that they are wild animals and need to observed and respected from a distance. They’ve been around for millions of years and will do just fine without the interference of people. There are times when wildlife will need emergency help. In these instances, please contact Animal Help Now to locate a licensed wildlife rehabber in your area. These rehab centers can treat injuries and know the right specialized diet to keep the animals healthy until they can be re-released to the wild. 

         The volunteers at Opie Acres and I know a lot about the usefulness of pouches and we are excited to show off the new “Opossums & Blossoms” bags to our naturally pouch carrying residents.

         

        Anxiously waiting,

        Christy Ramirez

        Chattanooga, TN

        Christy shared these photos with us from Opie Acres where opossums are often rescued, rehabilitated and returned to the wild. 

         

        Meet Stevie, a blind non-releasable, educational ambassador. In this photo she was channeling her inner Mrs. Claus for an educational holiday event. Opie Acres does not advocate use of wild animals in this manner. 

        Our anticipated Opossum Blossom pattern is finally available for pre-order on the 3-in-1 Bag! Expect to see it on other products late spring/early summer. 

         

        Floating through Cahaba Stars

        Floating through Cahaba Stars

        The water always takes my breath away. Now though, my attention has been averted to the gleaming stars setting atop the water.  They only show themselves once a year. Free-flowing river right at the transition point from mountains to the plain. Their fragrance is sweet, but short-lived. They are dependent upon a moth pollinator with at times, great distances between populations. Once was a common site amongst our southeastern rivers has become a rare joy. I am delighted to marvel in their glory.
        -Carla Atkinson, Ph.D., biology (University of Alabama)

        A little over a month ago Dr. Atkinson and I took our kayaks and made the annual trip to the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama to see the lovely Cahaba Lillies that bloom once a year from mid-May to mid-June. These iconic aquatic flowering plants require a very specialized habitat --swift-flowing water over rocks and lots of sun. They can only be found in the shoals areas or above the fall line in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
        These striking spider lilies once flourished in many locations on southeastern rivers, but due to damming of rivers and other human activities they now only appear in a very limited number of places. I am so fortunate to live close to the area they are the most populace, the Cahaba River.

        Mussels, Turtles and Darters, Oh My!

        Mussels, Turtles and Darters, Oh My!

        I recently put my photo editing experience to good use when I helped an ecologist friend Dr. Carla Atkinson assemble a collection of her beautiful photography. These photos were taken in Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama while she was earning her PhD. Luckily she let me share them with you! 

        Tiger Salamander near Honobia, Oklahoma.

        Lampsilis ovata, freshwater musselfiltering 

        Cope's Gray Tree Frog in south Georgia

        Alligator in south Georgia

        Razorback Musk Turtle in southeastern Oklahoma 

        Darter fish in Bear Creek, Alabama

        Amblema plicata, freshwater mussel, in Bear Creek, Alabama

        Ouachita Map turtle in Oklahoma 

        One Year Strong!

        One Year Strong!

        Today marks the one year anniversary of Sipsey Wilder! We went live on January 31st, 2019 and had our very first sale that night. Thank all of you so much for visiting our store, checking out our stuff and hopefully finding something you like!

        To commemorate this day I'm going to take a little journey back to the beginning of the concept and share the history of our logo. Before I found my way into pattern making and bag design I created a series of still-life photographs of the natural treasures in my home. Relics of nature have always captivated me. Even as a child my pockets were filled with interesting rocks, bone fragments, feathers and shells I had found.

        One of the photographs from this series became the inspiration for the Sipsey Wilder logo. This Longnose Gar skull posed with a flower stem became my jumping off point.

        I experimented with versions with the Gar skeleton and the SW initials. This set was the first I settled on, but they were quite complex. I now consider them our vintage logos.

        Finally these more graphic interpretations became our final versions and what you see today on your favorite Sipsey Wilder products! 

        To celebrate the anniversary we have some special little give-aways with orders placed today!