Winter Continues

We’ve had both warm and cold weather so far this season, mostly warm. Regardless of the temperature, things are rolling along as always; sunny days bring out turtles to bask, ducks feed, court, and rest in our wetland, and Mahonia blooms as it always does this time of year on the Dinosaur Trail and elsewhere around the campus. There seems to have been an unusual amount of fungi this fall and winter, perhaps due to the significant rain we’ve experienced.Read more

Reddish

When asked to describe a male cardinal, there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind what color the bird is, red. It’s not so clear-cut when describing some of our other local fauna. The red-bellied woodpecker in the above (and below) photos certainly has red on its head, but the red on it’s belly, the derivation of its common name, is not often seen. The bird, more often than not, perches with its belly against a tree trunk or branch making itRead more

Woodpecker vs Window

Chances are, you’ve been sitting quietly at your kitchen table or lounging on your living room couch and heard a loud thump at your sliding glass door or living room window. Upon inspection, you noticed a bird sprawled out on your deck or lawn. Or, the bird may have been standing there below the door or window motionless, dazed and confused. The chances of this happening are greatly increased if you have a bird feeder in your yard. Even so,Read more

Bird Feeders

Our bird feeders in Catch the Wind have been slow and steady this season. The resident chickadees, titmice, cardinals, house finches, nuthatches and other locals are all regular visitors for sure, but the temperatures haven’t been severe enough to bring in birds from different altitudes and latitudes. A substantial snow storm or period of extreme cold may bring in some birds we haven’t seen yet at the feeders this season. I’m not hoping for more snow. The early December snowRead more

Early Winter

The photos on this page were taken on December 11 following an early season snowstorm. It doesn’t typically snow in central North Carolina until January or February. This storm came early and left over a foot of snow in some areas. The spider in the photos is a marbled orb weaver (Araneus marmoreus). Spiders can and do produce a type of antifreeze and they can survive cold while living in the leaf liter, crevices in trees or rocks, or evenRead more

Familiar Faces

If you’ve spent any time walking the paths at the Museum of Life and Science, the following faces may be familiar to you. All of them, save one, are residents in some form. Above (banner photo) is one of our ring-tailed lemurs (Satyrus). Snakes are always a possibilty, even in winter. If you do see a snake during winter it’s probably a brown snake or possibly a garter snake. Everyone has seen one or more of our four black bearsRead more

Seeds

Airborne seed dispersal is an efficient way to get the next generation off to a good start far from the original. Considering an acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, that’s quite a feat for a stationary plant (acorns may be carried miles from the mother tree by birds, such as bluejays, but that’s another story). In both photos above and below groundsel tree (a shrub) lets loose its seeds via the wind. A puff of wind is all youRead more

Winter

Hiking around the outdoor loops here at the museum can be rewarding, you never know what you’ll come across. Even though I’ve walked these trails for some eleven years now I and my fellow rangers are still finding new things to discover. A few weeks ago, Ranger Martha discovered a group of earthstar mushrooms on the Dinosaur Trail. Initially, earthstars look like onions. Eventually the outer “onion” layer splits open creating a star-shaped platform on which sits a small ball-shapedRead more

A Salamander

Before this week I had seen only one species of salamander here on the museum’s 84 acres, a dead marbled salamander found alongside the path in January of 2017, nearly two years ago. Another salamander, described to me by a summer camper a few years beyond that, was probably a red-backed salamander. We now have a third. Animal Keepers Autumn and Janine, after several previous encounters with the slippery amphibians, were able to capture and photograph another species of salamanderRead more