Three Birds

Top Photo: Gray catbird. If the catbird in the photos looks a bit disheveled, it’s because it’s molting. By the time it’s ready to migrate south it’ll be neat and trim. Catbirds arrive at the museum by mid April each year. By mid October, most are gone. I’ve seen catbirds on campus in mid winter, but it’s the exception, not the rule. In the photo below you can see the rust colored feathers under the tail which are often overlookedRead more

Three Quick Photos

Top Photo: Common checkered-skipper ready to spread it wings. Although this small butterfly, the common checkered-skipper, is flying from March to November somewhere in North Carolina, they’re most often seen here at the museum in September and October. They’re swift flyers. Seconds after perching they tend to open their wings to reveal the checkered pattern for which they’re named. If you see one silvery checkerspot (below), you may see another since they tend to be somewhat colonial. I look forRead more

Hummingbird Bird and Moth

Top Photo: Juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird, rapidly beating wings blurred to near invisibility, hovers in front of trumpet vine’s tubular flowers. There are 16 species of hummingbird that breed in the United States. There’s only one species in the eastern states, ruby-throated hummingbird. If you see a hummingbird in North Carolina in summer, it’s a ruby-throated. From October into winter it’s most likely a different species that you see at your feeder, unless you’re on the Gulf Coast or ourRead more

A Stinkhorn and a Cardinal

Top Photo: May be Phallus rubicundus. Stinkhorns are fungi. They’re often found in mulch around plantings of trees, shrubs, or flowers. Originally egg-shaped and white, the red/orange horn arises from the “egg” in the substrate and develops a slimy brownish mass near the tip. This mass is the spore bearing material called a gleba. The gleba produces a putrid smell which attracts certain insects, including green bottle flies, to the stinkhorns. The bottle flies and other insects spread the sporesRead more

Bathe and Graze

Top Photo: Adult robin attempts to coax one of its offspring (left) to bathe in the water below waterfall at Red Wolf Enclosure. There are numerous bird families flying and foraging about our campus. Fledglings need to learn to cope with life before they go out on their own and the adults are doing their best to show them how. Finding food, bird song, and even bathing are all on the list. I came upon a group of American robinsRead more

Secret Spot

Top Photo: The view from the Secondary Wetlands Overlook. When you find a nice quiet “secret” spot to sit and rest, think, or meditate, it’s a good idea not to tell all of your friends, it will soon become a not-so-secret spot. I feel compelled, though, to tell you about this one. You’ll find out on your own anyway, sooner or later. It’s the Secondary Wetlands Overlook. It’s been “done-over” and remade into a shady rest stop for weary walkers.Read more

Out and About

Top Photo: Green heron perches on willow branch near water’s edge. Green herons are a fairly common sight in the wetlands during summer. They’ve nested at the museum more than a few times. I’ve previously mentioned in this blog the benefits for the naturalist who follows the eye of the bird. If you see a bird stare skyward it’s often worth your while to look up and see what the bird’s looking at. It may be a predator worthy ofRead more

No Time to Spare

Top Photo: A male slaty skimmer waits for flying insects to pass by. If you spend any time out in nature, you’ll no doubt see animals sitting around seemingly doing nothing. Perching, waiting, and sitting still is just part of life for many wild creatures. There’s usually a very good reason for the apparent idleness. While some dragonflies spend a good portion of their day hunting on the wing, slaty skimmers, like the one pictured above, do their hunting fromRead more

What’s Out There?

Top Photo: Great blue skimmer with prey. In one rather quick trip around the outdoor loop here at the museum I came upon a good bunch of interesting sights. In no particular order, here’s some of them. There are banana trees planted at several locations throughout the museum’s outdoor areas. The one pictured is in the garden next to Sprouts Cafe. Pomegranate is growing next to the bananas. Along the edge of that same garden I spotted a banded longhornRead more

A Poke, a Grab, and a Click

Top Photo: pokeweed raceme with flowers and unripe fruit. Pokeweed is a native, eastern North American plant. It grows in undisturbed areas. Its main stalk, stems and even flower racemes are shades of purple-red, boysenberry to magenta in color. It can grow more than six feet in height. It’s one of my favorite weeds. The entire plant is listed as toxic. But, I’ve read where the deep purple berries can be made into jam after the seeds are removed. InRead more