Hawk and Owl

Top Photo: Red-shouldered hawk and barred owl stand-off, as I arrived on the scene. Somewhere around 9:30 AM, I received a radio call from a very excited Ranger Gregory, “There’s lots of bird activity…hawk and owl fight…over by the Bird Viewing area.” I had my hands full so I couldn’t just drop-and-run. By the time I did made it to the bird feeders the action had moved a couple dozen yards down the trail. It seems, a barred owl wasRead more

Duck Duties

Top Photo: Drake feeds as duck preens. Ducks take preening, as do all birds, very seriously. After all, feathers are an important part of their lives. Feathers keep them cool in summer, warm in winter, dry both in and out of the water, and allows them to fly. Feather care is an essential part of their daily routine. Birds even have a built-in oil gland (uropygial gland) located on their backs just forward of the tail. If you watch aRead more

The Hermit and The Hole

Top Photo: Hermit thrush perches on vine in Explore the Wild. There are three thrushes which regularly spend the winter at the museum, eastern bluebird, American robin, and hermit thrush. All are migratory to some extent, though our local robins and bluebirds stay put. Only one is exclusively a winter visitor. Hermit thrushes arrive in our area late September to October. By the middle of May they’re gone. Mostly insectivorous, they consume many berries during the colder, insect deficient winterRead more

Red-shouldered, Stinkhorn, and Mistletoe

Top Photo: Red-shouldered hawk quietly perched in wooded swamp. Every now and then one of our resident red-shouldered hawks displays its complete lack of concern for we humans here at the museum. The red-shoulder in these photos was perched perhaps thirty feet from the walkway in the wooded swamp on the north side of our outdoor loop trail. This past week I noticed two of our adult red-shoulders performing courtship flight maneuvers and even gathering nesting material. One hawk wasRead more

Bears, Burls, and Butter-butts

Top Photo: Mimi bear (right) and Gus bear. After grazing on some winter grass, Mimi bear seemed to be headed for the culvert pipe attraction in her enclosure to slip inside for a nap. Gus bear was already engaged. With a sidelong glance at the slumbering male bear, Mimi slinked off to greener pastures. Recently, Ranger Brooke found a small piece of pine branch with a growth attached. She asked me what I thought it was. I reasoned it aRead more

Hawks Identified

The answers to the hawk identifications from last week’s post “A Four Hawk Week” are as follows. Top Photo: Cooper’s hawk. The rest of the hawks are: Hawk 1 – Sharp-shinned hawk (immature) What you can see is the rounded wings, longish squared-off tail and small head. What you can’t see is the rapid flap, flap, flap and glide as the bird flies along. Quick movements usually means small bird. This is a small hawk. Some of the smallest malesRead more

A Four Hawk Week

Top Photo: A hawk passes over. This past week I saw four hawk species pass overhead here at the museum. In case you would like to have a try at identifying the hawks yourself, I’ll wait several days before filling in the captions with the correct species names. The hawks pictured are not to scale.Read more

Look Twice

Top Photo: Yellow-rumped warbler in black willow. With many species, you don’t have to see much of a bird to identify it. The yellow-rumped warbler in the photo above is but one of several species of warbler with a patch of yellow feathers in the same location as this bird; magnolia, palm, and Cape May warblers are three others. The yellow-rumped is the only one you’re likely to see here in central North Carolina at this time of year. CapeRead more

Busy Time for Squirrels

Top Photo: Eastern gray squirrel sits on boulder chomping on nuts. Squirrel activity is high at this time. There’s lots of nest building and renovating, digging up of old buried seeds and nuts, and frequent munching. The weather has turned slightly colder and the squirrels are paying attention. Here’s some shots of resident gray squirrels doing what squirrels do while prepping for and reacting to the cold of winter. So, if you notice the squirrels seeming to be busier thanRead more