Seeds

Airborne seed dispersal is an efficient way to get the next generation off to a good start far from the original. Considering an acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, that’s quite a feat for a stationary plant (acorns may be carried miles from the mother tree by birds, such as bluejays, but that’s another story). In both photos above and below groundsel tree (a shrub) lets loose its seeds via the wind. A puff of wind is all youRead more

Winter

Hiking around the outdoor loops here at the museum can be rewarding, you never know what you’ll come across. Even though I’ve walked these trails for some eleven years now I and my fellow rangers are still finding new things to discover. A few weeks ago, Ranger Martha discovered a group of earthstar mushrooms on the Dinosaur Trail. Initially, earthstars look like onions. Eventually the outer “onion” layer splits open creating a star-shaped platform on which sits a small ball-shapedRead more

A Salamander

Before this week I had seen only one species of salamander here on the museum’s 84 acres, a dead marbled salamander found alongside the path in January of 2017, nearly two years ago. Another salamander, described to me by a summer camper a few years beyond that, was probably a red-backed salamander. We now have a third. Animal Keepers Autumn and Janine, after several previous encounters with the slippery amphibians, were able to capture and photograph another species of salamanderRead more

Falling Into Winter

We’re on the back side of fall and sliding into winter. There’s still much going on out-of-doors with lots to see if you keep an eye open to it. Here’s some of what I’ve been seeing. Asters are late summer and fall blooming flowers. They’re still blooming in the garden in front of our Butterfly House. Red buckeye fruit have already burst open spilling their large brown seeds (buckeyes) to the ground. Several common snapping turtle hatchlings were spotted bothRead more

Pumpkins

What do you do when you’re a six month old red wolf and your keepers (animal keepers) put pumpkins in your enclosure. First you stare at them. Then, if you can fit them in your mouth, you pick them up and walk around with them.Read more

Mergansers, Kingfishers, Shiners, and Gambusia (mosquitofish)

Last week, I posted that hooded mergansers, annual visitors from the north, have arrived in our wetlands for the season. They’re busily forming pair-bonds as I write. Over the years I’ve counted as many as 41 mergs at one time floating on our wetland’s water here at the museum. Early in the season it’s not unusual to see larger numbers until the fish-eating diving birds disperse, pairs and small groups choosing their favorite ponds and lakes at which to rest,Read more

Quiz Bird 2 Answer

I know, I know, this is tough. But hang on, let’s go through this together. As mentioned in the post when the birds were first introduced, they are much larger than swallows, much larger; goose, duck, heron, etc., size. You might be tempted to say the birds are ducks, or better, geese, simply because they’re flying in “V” formation. Ducks and geese do fly in “V” formations as well as echelon (like a V with one side removed, as inRead more

The Geese Are Back

Each February, sometimes as early as late January, two geese fly into our wetlands. It’s the same pair each year. This year, it happened to be the last week of January when they showed up. How do I know they’re the same geese. I don’t know with absolute certainty. But, the female of the two has a gray or whitish eye-ring. Most Canada geese do not have an eye-ring (it’s black, and since the feathers surrounding the eye are blackRead more

Quiz Bird 2

  Ah yes, the moon above the pines. But look closer. What do you see? The images here are of a flock of birds flying in formation across the moon. The birds are distant and I understand that it may be difficult to identify as to species, so you only have to determine as to family, or subfamily of bird. In other words, if they were swallows (they’re not swallows, but much larger birds) all you would have to sayRead more

‘Tis the Season – for Red Wolves

Alerted by animal keepers Autumn and Janine that mating behavior had been witnessed in the red wolves, I unleashed my camera and high-tailed it down to their enclosure. Sure enough, within minutes the wolves lived up to what the keepers had said (2/13/18). Unfortunately, after several attempts the wolves never tied or knotted which is necessary for a successful mating. Of course, the wolves have many hours in each day when no human is present to observe their behavior, who knows whatRead more