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Last Saturday in Homewood, nature lovers and people of all ages, got to meet their “friendly neighborhood salamanders” at The Friends of Shades Creek’s 13th Annual Salamander Festival.
One of the most exciting exhibits at the festival was getting to hold the salamanders. Children and adults lined up to “wet” their hands and have the chance to hold the yellow spotted salamanders. It drew quite the crowd.
The origin of this annual event hosted by Friends of Shades Creek, began as a way to celebrate and educate Homewood residents about the unique and important role salamanders have in their community, especially ones around the Samford University campus, that only come out once a year to breed. For years, along Lakeshore Drive in Homewood, the salamanders depart their underground burrows on a warm rainy night and travel across the busy road to get to a pond where they breed. The Friends of Shade Creek have made it their job to be the guardian of these little creatures, assisting them while they make the dangerous journey across one of Birmingham’s busiest thoroughfares.
“They are very neat creatures, and all of the salamanders here were found right here in Homewood,” said Kristen Bakkegard, a Samford University professor and salamander biologist
Along with the salamanders, the Alabama Wildlife Center presented a program on native birds. The audience was in awe at seeing an owl up close.
During the festival, children could make arts and crafts of salamanders and other wildlife. There were also tables set up to present other parts of wildlife, like looking through microscopes, learning about native fish, and tree seedlings that were available to purchase.
Held at the Homewood Senior Center, the Salamander Festival is attended by hundreds of people annually. To learn more about Salamanders, their unique connection to Shades Creek, and how you can volunteer, visit the Friends of Shades Creek website.