Ducks Heads

Top Photo: Male mallard swims away. Do you notice anything odd about this duck? Everyone has seen a mallard. To most people mallards are the duck. Let’s face it, they’re everywhere. They’re the most common duck across the northern hemisphere and part of the southern. They can be found in North and South America, Europe, Asia and parts of the African continent. They’re even in Greenland, Australia and New Zealand. If asked, what color is a mallard’s head? most peopleRead more

Have a Look Around

Top Photo: American robin on privet. Here’s some things to look for while you stroll around our Outdoor Loop Trail. American robins flock together in winter searching for food sources such as berry laden trees and shrubs. By this date last year Japanese apricot, or Chinese plum (Prunus mume) had been in bloom for two weeks. At this time in 2019 it had blossoms a week prior. It’s just now starting to come into flower this year. Hermit thrushes areRead more

Snow Day

Top Photo: As the snow begins to melt in the wetlands. Snow days are short-lived here on the Carolina Piedmont. You’d better get outside quick and take in the snow before it’s gone, literally melts away. Here’s a handful of shots from this morning moments before evanescence. Till next time…Read more

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 make 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