Hunting in Winter

Can you see the bird in the above photo? It’s a red-shouldered hawk. As mentioned in the previous post, Herps (reptiles and amphibians), there’s been lizard, snake, and frog activity lately. This red shoulder is hunting those creatures. It’s also keeping an eye out for any incautious bird, shrew or rodent. Looking high and low, left and right, the hawk keeps a sharp eye on it’s environment for the slightest movement, ready to pounce. After many minutes (at least anRead more

February

Despite the 70 degree temps we’re experiencing, it’s February. And, what happens every February here at the Museum of Life and Science? Hazel alder blooms. The golden flecks of wind-borne pollen sail through the air from the male catkins to the upright reddish female flowers (photo above). Look for the alders on the north side of the wetlands in Explore the Wild. Each February, brown-headed nuthatches pound away on the soft wood of some recently expired black willow in ourRead more

Mystery Tree

Always on the lookout for new or unusual flora and fauna here at the museum, Ranger Martha spotted a small tree or shrub growing along the path across from the Farmyard. What caught her eye were the numerous pink buds and flowers (about 1”) on the plant. Not knowing what the plant was she took several photos and started asking questions. Martha showed the photos to me. I was of little help, even after examining the plant in person. It seemed,Read more

Winter Continues

We’ve had both warm and cold weather so far this season, mostly warm. Regardless of the temperature, things are rolling along as always; sunny days bring out turtles to bask, ducks feed, court, and rest in our wetland, and Mahonia blooms as it always does this time of year on the Dinosaur Trail and elsewhere around the campus. There seems to have been an unusual amount of fungi this fall and winter, perhaps due to the significant rain we’ve experienced.Read more

Reddish

When asked to describe a male cardinal, there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind what color the bird is, red. It’s not so clear-cut when describing some of our other local fauna. The red-bellied woodpecker in the above (and below) photos certainly has red on its head, but the red on it’s belly, the derivation of its common name, is not often seen. The bird, more often than not, perches with its belly against a tree trunk or branch making itRead more

Woodpecker vs Window

Chances are, you’ve been sitting quietly at your kitchen table or lounging on your living room couch and heard a loud thump at your sliding glass door or living room window. Upon inspection, you noticed a bird sprawled out on your deck or lawn. Or, the bird may have been standing there below the door or window motionless, dazed and confused. The chances of this happening are greatly increased if you have a bird feeder in your yard. Even so,Read more

Bird Feeders

Our bird feeders in Catch the Wind have been slow and steady this season. The resident chickadees, titmice, cardinals, house finches, nuthatches and other locals are all regular visitors for sure, but the temperatures haven’t been severe enough to bring in birds from different altitudes and latitudes. A substantial snow storm or period of extreme cold may bring in some birds we haven’t seen yet at the feeders this season. I’m not hoping for more snow. The early December snowRead more

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