Eight Lobe-leaved Plant of Japan

Top Photo: Fatsia japonica on Dinosaur Trail. An evergreen shrub, Fatsia japonica is native to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Here, it’s a common and popular landscape plant which does well in full and partial shade. At the museum, its white umbel flowers bloom in November when it attracts many late season insects. Everything from ants to butterflies come to the flowers for their nectar. But there are other posts about the insects that are attracted to the fall blooming flowerRead more

Three Hives

Top Photo: One of three known bald-faced hornet’s nests at museum this year. There have been at least three active bald-faced hornet nests on our 84 acre campus this year. It’s likely there were more, but only three were discovered. Two of the hives were found by the sharp eye of Ranger Martha who is always on the lookout for mycelium. As is often the case when searching for one thing, you’re often surprised by the serendipitous discovery of somethingRead more

Sharing

Our two sibling red wolves, Eno and Ellerbe, share the same enclosure. As you might expect, each wolf has its own personality. Eno often seems to desire, what appears to be, playful interaction between himself and his brother. From my observations, Ellerbe prefers to be left alone and does not share his brother’s enthusiasm for “playfulness.” It’s part of the captive animal experience to be offered enrichment. Environmental Enrichment, in the case here, is the placement of objects inside theRead more

Purple Martin Update

North America’s largest and probably most familiar swallow is the purple martin. The birds spend the winter in South America and return to eastern North America to nest. They’re almost entirely dependent on manmade structures to nest in, plastic or hollowed out natural gourds, large multi-room bird houses and other structures. The first arrivals from South America usually make it back to North Carolina by the first couple of weeks in March. One was spotted in Durham on February 12th.Read more

Snow

It doesn’t snow often in our locale (Central North Carolina). And, when it does, it melts quickly. You better get out and enjoy it while it lasts. In case you missed it, I took some photos for you. (all photos 2.21.20) See you next time!Read more

Spring?

With snow in today’s forecast you might not think it’s spring. Meteorologically speaking, it’s only a little more than a week away. So, it’s no real surpise to see pickerel frogs and blue violets. The violet may be a bit early, but the local pickerel frogs begin their breeding in February. Listen for their soft snore-like calls as you wind through Explore the Wild, take a peek over the rail as you walk along the boardwalk, you may hear orRead more

Gray Squirrel Update

In my last post I mentioned an eastern gray squirrel who had been feasting on wax myrtle fruit. We all know that squirrels are sedulous chowhounds. They’ll try most any food and go to great lengths to do it. Put up a bird feeder and you’ll see to what lengths they’ll go to eat the seed in that feeder. Still, even with their reputation for gluttony driven acrobatics, and their sheer ubiquity, it’s fun to watch our squirrels here atRead more

Waxy Fruit Eaters

Above: Yellow-rumped warbler on wax myrtle. Yellow-rumped warblers (also know as myrtle warblers) are not the only animals that eat wax myrtle fruit. I read somewhere that some 42 bird species consume the wax-coated seeds of the shrub. Besides the above mentioned warbler, I can only remember seeing a handful of species of bird partake, ruby-crowned kinglet, eastern phoebe, and a few more. Regardless of how many birds or other animals eat the wax myrtle fruit, the grand prize winnerRead more

Canada Geese Back In Wetlands

Each year during February a pair of Canada geese shows up in our wetland. They’re here to mate and nest. Geese are typically noisy birds, but the pair doesn’t necessarily upset the quiet solitude of the wetlands. In fact, their presence enhances the experience of the swampy woodland. For the past several years, two pair have vied for the right to nest in out little pond. When the pairs clash, the erstwhile solitude of the wetlands quickly becomes a raucousRead more

A Tiny Wasp and Spiny Gall

The round, spiky objects you see in the photos above and below are galls. But unlike the previously mentioned goldenrod gall (see here) there’s a cinipid wasp behind the gall. The goldenrod gall is caused by a fly not a wasp. The small, spiny rose gall wasp (Diplolepis bicolor) laid eggs on the plant, in this case swamp rose (Rosa palustris), and the resultant larvae that hatched from the eggs began eating the plant. This stimulates the plant into growingRead more