A vital information source for patrons

Morton Massey, Knoxville Area Birding Group president, tells visitors about a 2016 birding trip to Alaska during a presentation Oct. 6 at The Public Library at Tellico Village.

The Public Library at Tellico Village offers residents a way to connect with interests through a variety of classes, lectures and presentations.

Patrons can learn about Medicare and Social Security, history, writing, living trusts, gardening and birding.

“I have a rich variety of programming that we have been doing for the past seven years,” Carol DeForest, library director, said. “It’s just a wide variety of things.”

A physiotherapist comes to the library regularly to talk about how to prevent injuries. There are several gardening classes, and local history classes are popular, DeForest said.

Although the amount changes monthly, eight events are scheduled for October, including lectures Wednesday on proper posture and Oct. 20 for living trusts. Other upcoming presentations include Nov. 9 for easy holiday food, Nov. 10 and 17 for the Trail of Tears, Nov. 16 for researching family history and Dec. 2 for local history.

Birder discusses Alaska trip

On Oct. 6, Knoxville Area Birding Group President Morton Massey shared about a 2016 birding trip to Attu, a large, remote island at the western end of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

“When I retired, this was my No. 1 bucket item,” Massey said.

Ten top bird watchers and three crew members participated in the trip and 10-day island stay, which included a Big Year record holder and other birders working on a Big Year. A Big Year is a competition to see the greatest number of birds in North America in one year and can involve spotting more than 700 species.

“I was just a spectator on a really cool ride,” Massey said.

He said most birders who have won a Big Year in the United States and Canada have gone to Attu during the year.

“More rare species have been seen on that island than anywhere in North America,” he said.

A 60-hour, 500-mile ride through 8-foot waves on a 72-foot boat was required to get to the island. At the island, there is no town, hospital, boat repair, Coast Guard station, cellphone service or internet.

“There is no person living within 445 miles of this island,” Massey said. “It’s a remote place.”

In the spring, Asian bird species migrating north to far eastern Russia can get blown off course by westerly winds or weather and land on Attu.

During the June 2016 trip, starting in Adak Island in the Aleutians, group members observed common inland water birds such as the mallard, northern pintail, Arctic tern and parasitic jaeger and common land birds such as the bald eagle, common raven, song sparrow and winter wren. They also viewed common coastal birds such as common eider, rock sandpiper, harlequin duck and marbled murrelet.

But the trip also included birds not often seen — species with few sightings in North America each year, including a the tufted duck, smew, common snipe, common sandpiper, short-tailed albatross, brambling, rustic bunting and eyebrowed thrush.

Massey said he hadn’t seen a terek sandpiper since the 1970s and most other group members hadn’t ever seen one.

When they returned to Adak, the group saw a Far Eastern curlew, a type of bird not seen every year in North America, Massey said. Other rare birds were a Eurasian hobby and a jack snipe.

Massey saw his 700th bird species on the trip, a whiskered auklet.

Tellico Village resident Mary Cushman, whose husband George was an international birder, said Massey and his presentation about his trip to Attu “was fabulous.”

“I always wanted to go there, never got to,” she said.

Cushman said she and her husband traveled the world bird watching, and she has been to the Amazon and seen animals and birds that most people never get to see.

A wealth of opportunities

The library also offers a computer lab and educational DVDs that can be checked out for free on wellness, nature, science and travel.

The library has three telescopes that patrons can use, DeForest said. The telescopes are specially modified for library use so they won’t break. They are easy to use, lightweight and come with instructions, DeForest said.

The Village library is the first in the state to offer such a program, which is popular in the summer, on holidays and when families are visiting.

Children’s backpacks filled with books, DVDs, games and toys are also available.

“It keeps kids busy and learning at the same time,” DeForest said.

The library serves Loudon and Monroe counties but most users live in Tellico Village. Residents of those two counties can get a free library card. Residents outside of those counties can get a card for $10. The library has a few patrons from Roane County, DeForest said.

“People think libraries are just books, and that’s just not true anymore,” she said.