Nest Box Update 7.10.18

We have 3 nests that have now, or have recently, shown some sort of activity. One has seen additional construction, one has fledged its occupants, and another has what may be a new beginning. The building of the second-of-the-season house wren nest at the Cow Pasture has continued. I could hear the adult house wrens in the woods behind the nest box. They had started the nest in the nest box last week and it now looks to be nearlyRead more

Mountain Mint

  These large, black wasps are specialist in orthoptera. They provision their underground burrows, or nests, with grasshoppers and katydids. Thread-waisted wasps of the ammophila variety provision their burrow nests with caterpillars or sawfly larvae. Great-golden digger wasps (Sphex ichneumoneus), like the great black wasp above, is an orthopteran specialist. It too uses grasshoppers and katydids to stock the chambers of its burrow nest. Both bees and wasps seem mesmerized by the diminutive flowers. Indirectly attracted to the flowers, thereRead more

Nest Box Update 7.3.19

Two of our six nest boxes are active. One contains the start of a new nest, the other nestlings. The Cow pasture nest box has the beginnings of a second house wren nest. It’s only partially completed but the wrens could be heard off in the woods nearby. Five house wrens have already fledged from this nest box. It’s late in the season but there may be more to come. The Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxesRead more

June Sightings in The Wild

It’s near the end of June. Below (and above) are photos of some of the creatures I’ve seen during the month. They’re arranged in no particular order. The top photo is of one of the milkweeds, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It attracts many insects to it’s flowers, leaves, and seed pods throughout the summer season. Here, you can see new flower buds on the left and older flowers to the right. Some insects go out of their way to attractRead more

Nest Box Update 6.26.18

We have one active nest with five bluebird nestlings. All but that one nest box is empty. The nest box next to the Parking Deck contains 5 newly hatched bluebirds. Look closely at the photo below. You can clearly see the main feather tracts (rows of gray “dots” where feathers will grow) on the nearly naked nestlings. All other nest boxes have been cleaned and readied for new occupancy. We still have time for another brood but that will beRead more

A Passion For Flowers

Located around our campus there grows two different varieties of passionflower or passion vine, yellow (passiflora lutea) and purple (Passiflora incarnata). The yellow variety is a small, more delicate plant than the purple variety. Although the flower is structurally similar it is smaller and less ornate. The leaves are three lobed as in the purple passionflower vine but with little or no sinus separating the lobes. The flowers on the purple variety are about three inches across whereas the yellowRead more

Nest Box Update 6.19.18

One nest box has fledged its occupants and another is waiting for its eggs to hatch. The Cow Pasture house wrens five nestlings have fledged. The nest was empty on this morning’s inspection. Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxes are empty. There are 5 eggs in the bluebird nest at the Parking Deck nest box. An adult female bluebird flew from the nest as I approached it. I expect the eggs to have hatched by next week’sRead more

Nest Box Update 6.12.18

A tree nearly smashed one of the nest boxes, fresh eggs are in another nest box, and an injured or deformed and dead bird in still another. A small walnut tree came very close to landing on top of the nest box at Cow Pasture. As it is, a grape vine that had been growing on the walnut caught the top of the box. The nest box is occupied by house wrens. I could hear and finally saw the adultRead more

More Summer Fun

Equisetum (top photo) is also called horsetail or scouring rush. This patch is located in and around the Troodon exhibit on the Dino Trail. The name equisetum is Latin for “horse bristle.” The common name horsetail is usually used to describe the entire group of species within the genus Equisetum. The branched species are said to resemble a horse’s tail. The name scouring rush comes from the fact that the rough, silica rich stems have been, and can be, usedRead more

Summer Sights

The butterfly in the top photo is an eastern tailed-blue. It belongs to a group of small butterflies known as blues. They are typically blue on the upper surface of the wings. They like open spaces and generally fly low to the ground.   The eastern tailed-blue above is worn. Some of its markings are missing or obscured and one can barely make out a “tail” on the hind wing. Below is a more fresh individual, a male, displaying theRead more