A New Norris House: Phase IV

Live-In Evaluation and Monitoring of a design/build effort

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    Turkeys and deer and snakes—oh my!

    By newnorrishouse
    May 27, '12 2:53 PM EST

    Not long after moving to Norris, we were driving around town and saw a rafter (or gang, if you prefer) of wild turkeys walking through a field. As a newcomer to the area, I did a double take—were we really seeing turkeys?? I’ve seen them again on several occasions and while it doesn’t come as much of a surprise anymore, it’s fun to spot them and their distinctive walk.

    Norris is home to all kinds of wildlife; the city and the Norris Watershed area are considered a wildlife sanctuary (see map). An aerial view of the city shows how much green space there is throughout the town; this remnant of early city design provides space for animal habitats to coexist with the people who live here. We’ve noticed at the house that as the grasses are filling in and the garden is growing, there are more butterflies, dragonflies, and bees in the backyard.

    many trees and green spaces in the city of Norris

    In addition to the wild turkeys, we’ve seen deer, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, hawks, bats, snakes, and vultures. We’ve smelled skunks, and have heard frogs, crickets, cicadas, and many songbirds. This is only a small sampling of area wildlife; the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Watchable Wildlife Information site has links to different wildlife types, wildlife programs, species lists, and publications.

    eastern bluebird (source)

    The trees around the house are full of birds that start their singing early in the morning and continue until the evening. The time of day could be tracked by the singing and chirping of the birds alone. The early hours are bursting with song, midday is a quieter yet constant chatter, and late afternoon the cawing of crows almost drowns out anything else. From the kitchen window, I’ve seen Eastern bluebirds (they have the most brilliant blue coloring), cardinals, blue jays, robins, hawks, crows, house finches, pileated woodpeckers, sparrows, and wrens. This list is short since it’s limited to the birds I can identify; there are many more species in the area.

    hawk with snake, seen from kitchen window

    The Norris Dam recreation area is close by and a good spot for watching birds or wildlife. Because the Clinch River flows through here, different types of birds and wildlife live in the area; you might see herons, ducks, kingfishers, trout, and turtles. The 2.5 mile Songbird Trail follows the river, and is a good place for an easy and peaceful walk close to many birds. We’ve always enjoyed the trail on the walks we’ve taken there; it’s a bonus to have a protected area like it practically in the backyard.

    Learn more about our project at

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About this Blog

The New Norris House is a design/build effort from the University of Tennessee's College of Architecture and Design. Began in 2009, the home was designed and built by UT students in collaboration with Clayton Homes. The built project is now complete and the final phase of the project has begun. A team of 4 people (2 living in the home, and 2 graduate researchers) will rigorously document the experience via qualitative assessments and quantitative measurements, posting results to this blog.

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