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

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

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

Merganser Are Back

Hooded mergansers typically arrive in our wetlands in November, from the first to third week in November. A trio showed up today (10/20) at the end of the third week of October. The birds usually get right to the business of pair-bonding upon arrival. The bonds are formed here on the wintering grounds and reinforced throughout the season. When, sometime next March and April, the birds head back north to the breeding areas the pairs are already formed and theyRead more

Season Changes and The Wolves

Migration has been underway for several months. Most of the northern insectivorous birds have passed us by for warmer climates. The majority of our local insect-eating birds have long since departed. Some still linger, like catbird, but they’re on their way out. Granivores like juncos, white-throated sparrows and others will arrive soon. It can’t be long before the butter-butts (yellow-rumped warblers) come in. I heard a yellow-bellied sapsucker the other day. Our winter visiting hooded mergansers should arrive next month.Read more

Night-heron Visit

A yellow-crowned night-heron showed up in the wetlands on Tuesday (8/7). One of the summer campers spotted it under the boardwalk leading to Explore the Wild. It was in immature plumage. In other words, the bird was hatched this season. It may be somewhat local. This is the second time I’ve seen a yellow-crowned night-heron here at the museum. The first time was in May of 2011 following a heavy thunderstorm. Here’s a few shots of this year’s bird. LuckyRead more

July, gone but not forgotten

On its way to the ocean via the Eno River, Falls Lake and Neuse River, Ellerbe Creek runs through our 84 acre campus. Before it reaches us, it flows under an interstate highway (twice), through a golf course, through quiet neighborhoods and under and through a mall, mostly unseen by the local human population. There are a handful of preserves along its 20 mile meander through Durham but for the most part, I’d wager, most folks don’t know it exists.Read more

Nest Box Update 7.31.18 (the final count)

There has been no activity in any of the nest boxes for the past two weeks. A house wren nest had been started in the nest box at the Cow Pasture, but apparently the birds have moved on. Likewise, the bluebirds that started construction of a nest in the box at Woodlands Classroom have not been seen or heard from in two weeks. I’m calling it. The season is officially over! Here’s the totals for birds fledged this and previousRead more

Nest Box Update 7.17.18

We have two active nests. Of the six nest boxes on our modest bluebird trail, two have nests within. One nest is of house wrens, the other of bluebirds. The twigs were piled high when I looked into the nest box at the Cow Pasture on Tuesday (7/17). The house wren nest is complete but there are still no eggs in the nest. It was started on or around 7/3 (two weeks ago) so I would have expected more progressRead more

Nest Box Update 7.3.19

Two of our six nest boxes are active. One contains the start of a new nest, the other nestlings. The Cow pasture nest box has the beginnings of a second house wren nest. It’s only partially completed but the wrens could be heard off in the woods nearby. Five house wrens have already fledged from this nest box. It’s late in the season but there may be more to come. The Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxesRead more