It’s All About Procreation

Top Photo: Fledgling eastern phoebes huddle together as they await feeding from parent. Spring keeps chugging along, and with it the lives of many different creatures. Below are photos of some of our local residents rolling with the flow. A nestling blue-gray gnatcatcher waits for one of its parents to deliver protein. The lichen covered nest is in a maple tree on an island in our parking lot. It was spotted by sharp-eyed Ranger Dakota. Unlike gnatcatchers, brown-headed nuthatches nestRead more

Keep Watching the Spring

Top Photo: Pipe vine flower. Spring keeps rolling along in typical fashion, flora and fauna reacting and adjusting to our hemisphere’s slow tilt towards the sun. The days are getting longer, the temperatures warmer. Here, in no particular order, are things I’ve come across in my walks around campus. The painted lady in the photo is a worn individual with scale damage and fraying on the wings. Blue-gray gnatcatchers are small but noisy birds. They arrive in our area earlyRead more

Two Herps, Two Leps, Two Swallows, and Two Crows

Top Photo: Rat snake crossing path near Bird Viewing Exhibit. Rat snakes are common in our area so it’s not unusual to see one crossing the path at the museum, especially during spring when so much of the local wildlife is engaged in activities which make them vulnerable to predation. Birds are busy with nesting activities, frogs and toads are perhaps a little less cautious when in breeding mode, and if you have a chicken coop, you may have noticedRead more

Spring Happenings and Aquatic Turtle Update

Top Photo: Upper surface of American snout. Things happen very quickly in spring, flowers bloom and fade, plants shoot out new leaves, insects emerge, birds who’ve been absent half a year, reappear. Here’s some of those things and more of what has occurred over the past week. Daffodils are early season flowers that last but briefly. Bees emerge with little on their agenda but food and reproduction. It’s time to get a new nest started. Northern, or Dekay’s brown snakes,Read more

Spring Happenings

Top Photo: Increasing in number on the piedmont, green anoles are expanding their range. When I first started work here at the museum some 14 years ago, it was unheard of to see a green anole in the outdoor areas of the museum. It’s now a common sight. Even on warm, sunny, winter days you may run into one of these, largely arboreal lizards. So far this spring I’ve seen question mark, comma, mourning cloak, falcate orangetip, eastern tiger swallowtail,Read more

Fall Update

Top Photo: Eastern phoebe awaits airborne insects. These hardy flycatchers will be with us for most of the winter. The weather is delightful and so are the sights outdoors at the museum. But, you have to be there to see them. Abelia is still blooming and attracting visitors at the Butterfly House Garden. It’s a non-native species but not considered invasive. A carpenter bee buzzes by goldenrod in the garden along the stairway and ramp leading to the Butterfly House.Read more

A Spider and a Resting Monarch

Top Photo: Spider takes refuge under magnolia leaf. After my having walked through it’s partially deconstructed web, the architect and builder retreated to the underside of a sturdy southern magnolia leaf. It was an orb weaver which tells you what kind of web it builds and what family of spiders it belongs to, Araneidae. Araneidae build the stereotypical webs most people are familiar with. The webs are vertically oriented, circular webs placed across paths, roads, walkways, between shrubs and trees,Read more

Cardinal and Pandora, Tortoise Beetle, and Annual Caterpillar Feast

Top Photo: Male cardinal wrestles with large green caterpillar. The cardinal flopped to the ground no more than a dozen feet from us on the Dinosaur Trail. It had a large green caterpillar under its control. Two months earlier, just feet away from where we now stood, I photographed a male cardinal tearing apart two luna moths. May was a busy month for luna moths, mating and laying eggs. Could this big caterpillar which was now committed to being eatenRead more

Something to Look At

Top Photo: Bumble bee takes nectar and transfers pollen in the process. Here, I have a quick list of photos of what you might see on a walk around the outdoor trails here at the museum. Last year we had at least three bald-faced hornet hives on the campus. One was in a dawn redwood tree over the boardwalk, another in a pine along one of the service roads, and the third was in a small maple hanging over EllerbeRead more

A Few Flying Insects

Here’s a quick look at some flying insects I’ve encountered during the past few weeks. American lady butterflies are fairly large and easy to spot in the flower garden at the Butterfly House. These butterflies look similar to a southwestern species which makes it to the state every couple of years. On this species, American lady, note the white dot on an orange rectangular area of the forewing which is visible from both above and below. On the underside ofRead more