Summer Pics

A sampling of sights you may witness while strolling through Catch the Wind, Explore the Wild, Hideaway Woods and the Dinosaur Trail. Ranger Martha discovered the following fungi. When perched, hairstreaks slowly rub their hind wings back and forth. This may be a way to attract attention to the rear of the butterfly to fool predators into thinking it’s the head of the insect. Note long, modified scales (false antennae) and red spot (head/eye). The butterfly pictured has damage toRead more

Nest Box Update 8.6.19 (the final count)

All of our nest boxes are empty. Most have some sort of nest material inside of them, but they’ve not been utilized, added to or occupied in several weeks or longer. One nest box had four young bluebirds fledge today (8/6). The nest box at the Cow Pasture started out the season with chickadees. The little gray, black and white parids laid 2 eggs in the nest before house wrens took it over. The wrens raised two broods in theRead more

Nest Box Update 7.23.19

We currently have 8 nestlings in two of our six nest boxes. Four of those are house wrens, the remainder bluebirds. Four bluebirds have fledged and a new nest started atop that nest. There are, as best as I can tell, four house wrens nestlings in the nest box at the Cow Pasture near the Ellerbe Creek Railway Tunnel. There had been five eggs in the nest but as you can see from the photo, it appears only four hatched.Read more

Catalpa Worms

I’d been waiting for them to appear since the first leaves of the catalpa tree began to sprout earlier in the season. I finally noticed their handiwork on the 18th of June. The large, long-stalked, heart-shaped leaves of the tree were becoming mere skeletons (top photo, 6/18). When I discovered the caterpillars they were about 1/2” long and feeding gregariously with their siblings. They had the potential of reaching 3” in length. They were the larvae of the catalpa sphinxRead more

Nest Box Update 7.9.19

There are now, as there was last week, three active nests. Two have eggs and one is occupied by four nearly ready to fledge bluebirds. The house wren nest at the Cow Pasture still has five eggs. I heard an adult calling in the nearby brush as I approached the nest box so it’s possible the eggs are being incubated. I may have come along as the adult was taking a break from that chore.   The Explore the WildRead more

Nest Box Update 7.2.19

There are now three active nests. One nest is full of bluebird nestlings, one with house wren eggs, and another with a fresh bluebird nest. The nest at the Cow Pasture has five house wren eggs. This is the second brood for this nest box as it has already fledged five house wrens. The Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxes are empty. The nest box on the east side of the parking deck has twigs placed inRead more

Red Shoulders and Red Tails

As I walked past the last shrub in the line of hazel alders and into the clearing I was a bit startled by a red-shouldered hawk no more than four feet distance from me, at eye level. The hawk seemed just as surprised as I as we stared wide-eyed at one another on the north edge of the wetland. The hawk’s stare briefly intensified, then relaxed. I slowly backed up so as not to force the hawk to flight. ItRead more

Nest Box Update 6.25.19

A new nest and four new nestlings are the stories of the day. After discovering last week that the house wrens that had occupied the nest box at the Cow Pasture had fledged, I tossed the old nest, cleaned the inside of the box, and placed a new berry basket where the old one had been. When I opened the box this week it had a completely new house wren nest inside. I was surprised to see the new nest.Read more

Nest Box Update 6.18.19

One bunch of nestlings has fledged while another nest still has four unhatched bluebirds eggs. An empty nest has had nesting material place within. The five house wrens at the Cow Pasture nest box have all fledged. I could hear the birds off in the woods as I went about with my nest box inspections this morning. The Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxes are both empty. For the past five to six weeks the nest boxRead more

What’s Happening in the Wild

Above, during a downpour, northern rough-winged swallows take a break from swirling, diving and capturing airborne insects over the wetlands. If, while visiting the museum you park at the parking deck, stop and have a look at the flowers blooming along the path leading to the deck, you may see some interesting insects, including several species of butterfly. Over the past week I’ve been seeing dogbane beetles on their namesake plant along the path of the outdoor loop through ExploreRead more