Gall Midges

Top Photo: Cypress flower midge galls on bald cypress needles (November). When female cypress flower gall midges emerge in the spring they mate and immediately lay eggs on fresh green needles of bald cypress trees. The feeding larvae which hatch from the eggs stimulate the needles into forming flower shaped galls on their surfaces. The galls look very much like tiny fungi, but inside each one of the little “mushrooms” is a larva of a cypress flower gall midge. TheRead more

You Had to Be There

Top Photo: Hermit thrush surveys its winter quarters near red wolf enclosure at museum. A hermit thrush can be difficult to spot when sitting motionless amongst branches, twigs, and leaves of trees. Even while it calls out with a chup…chup…chup or slowly repeats a slurry, whistled tone, it can be hard to pin down. Perseverance sometimes pays off when the bird switches perch, the movement catching your eye, and you got him. While walking along a service road out ofRead more

Late Season Insect

Top Photo: Common green stink bug. I came across a green stink bug while walking on a service road here at the museum. Though it’s November, the temps were in the mid 70s, twenty degrees warmer than it is today. The insect was making its way up two bundles of loblolly pine needles which had fallen and lodged themselves on a small bare vine. There are at least two green stink bugs you can encounter here on the Carolina Piedmont,Read more

GBH and more Fall Colors

Top Photo: Great blue heron with fluffed out neck feathers. Great blue herons (GBHs) are not as regular visitors as they once were, so it’s nice to see one in our wetlands. Things are changing rapidly. Seasonal colors peak and fall. Don’t miss it. Don’t miss a minute of it.Read more

The Little Bear Update

Top Photo: Gus Bear and Little Bear feed on food tossed out by Animal Care Team, nuts, sweet potatoes, carrots, berries… Just to remind everyone the best time to spot our newest black bear is in the morning. The secondary black bear overlook remains the best location to get a glimpse of the “Little Bear.” She’s staying out longer each day and seems to be adapting well. I’ll see you there.Read more

Bear-watching

Top Photo: Two diehard bear-watchers staring at Yona Bear but hoping for a glimpse of the “little bear.” Morning is the best time for seeing our new cub, which is why the two intrepid bear-watchers above are braving a chilly morning in Explore the Wild to search for the “little bear.” There she is, up on the stump behind Gus! Come on out and see if you can spot her.Read more

Groundhogs, a Little Bear, and a Hawk

Top Photo: Oak stump and resident groundhog. Strolling through Wander Away in Catch the Wind, I noticed a gray, furry head poking out from the side of a large oak stump on the side of the path. I immediately stopped and reached for my camera. Inching forward, I was able to get a few shots of the young groundhog whose head was posed at the entrance to its burrow, its nose twitching for scent. Groundhogs are fairly common sights hereRead more

Color Arrives

Top Photo: Dwarf sumac. Here in the middle of North Carolina, fall colors arrive in November. This year, many of the leaves went straight to brown, whether due to an unusually dry summer or some other meteorological phenomenon. However, there are still gems to be found out there. But you better experience it now. It only takes one good November gale to knock the color out of the trees and onto the ground. Here’s some color I came across theRead more

FOY Hooded Merganser

Top Photo: One of four mergansers that arrived on October 31, 2013 in our wetlands. The photo above was of the earliest hooded merganser arrivals I have on record here at the museum. This year’s first-of-the-year (FOY) hooded merganser arrived November 3, and as is often the case with a lone first arrival, he stayed close to the water’s edge and under the brush on the far side of the wetlands. More should be arriving soon.Read more

Northernmost

Top Photo: Northern mockingbird surveys its domain atop small tree in Butterfly House Garden. The common name northern mockingbird comes from the fact these birds are the northernmost occurring species of mockingbird. Other mockingbird species are resident from Central to South America. The genus name Mimus means mimic. The specific Latin name, polyglottos, means “many-tongued or languaged.” Mimus polyglottos, this bird’s Latin name, means “many tongued mimic.” Mockingbirds prefer open areas with shrubs, hedges and small fruiting trees and shrubs. They’re territorial and won’t hesitate toRead more