Mantid, Frog and an Odd Fruit in Mid-November

Top Photo: Butterfly House volunteer and insect lover Daniel holds mantid which, itself, had just captured a cabbage white butterfly. It’s mid-November and insects are still active. In fact, Butterfly House Volunteer Daniel was out exploring the Butterfly House Outdoor Garden here at the museum when he came across three on-the-prowl mantids. One of them had just captured a cabbage white butterfly (above photo). Volunteer Sam reveled in letting one of the mantids crawl up her arm. I’ve seen bullfrogsRead more

Crayfish Revisited

Top Photo: One red swamp crayfish jets away as another approaches it. I’m frequently asked about the creatures that live in our wetlands. Inevitably, the subject of crayfish, red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), enters the conversation. I ask whoever it is I’m talking to if they’ve read my blog postings on the crayfish. If not, I urge them to do so as soon as they get the chance. The following was first published in October of 2011 under the titleRead more

What You Might See

Top Photo: Mystery bird in red maple. If you identified the bird in the top photo, you did well. It’s a blue-headed vireo. It was formerly know as solitary vireo, a name which I prefer over blue-headed. It’s not a rare migrant here in the Piedmont, but I haven’t seen one at the museum in several years so I thought it noteworthy. Occasionally they’re seen in the area during December, January, or even February. Fatsia Japonica is in bloom onRead more

A Few Fall Encounters

Top Photo: Eastern Phoebe. Eastern phoebes can be seen in every month of the year in central North Carolina. Here at the museum, they nest under the boardwalk each spring/summer and are present in all but the coldest months of the year, although some years I see them regularly throughout the four seasons. The phoebe above is in fresh fall plumage. You can see the distinctive greenish belly and chin on this newly molted bird. The green tint will soonRead more

Yellow Flowers, Gray Frogs, and Green Caterpillars.

Top Photo: Crownbeard. Crownbeard is a local herbaceous composite, meaning it grows in the area, has no woody stems or branches and has both disk and ray flowers. I refer to it as the unkempt, or messy sunflower. The flowers seem never to be complete. The ray flowers are uneven in shape, and in most cases are missing many petals Yellow crownbeard (Verbesina occidentalis) is common in the piedmont and can be found along roadsides, edges, and water courses. IRead more

The Results

Top Photo: A very fresh narrow-mouthed toad. Back in July when rainy days and nights reigned over the wetlands I would hear the bleating, lamb-like call of narrow-mouthed toads calling from in and around the wet areas of our campus. The toads were here to mate. The results are in. Ranger Tim, on duty in Hideaway Woods, spotted a freshly morphed narrow-mouthed toad along the path there. They are very small. Newly morphed toads are about 10 mm, give orRead more

What’s Out There

Top Photo: Mushrooms rise up through fresh mulch. The small, gilled mushrooms pictured here all emerged from mulch in Explore the Wild on the same day. The following day, they had disappeared. All that remained were a few stragglers. I’m not sure of the identity of these fungi. If you have an opinion, it’s welcomed. If you’re headed out to Earth Moves in Catch the Wind, you’ll probably run into a cloud of mist on your way. We’ve installed mistersRead 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

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