February

It’s February, and what happens in February besides the Super Bowl and, this year, the Olympics? Spring! Well, not quite, but we’re getting there. To prove it, hazel alder is blooming (happens here at the Museum in Feb.), brown-headed nuthatches are excavating nest holes, and the red wolves are feeling amorous (sort of). The wind-borne pollen of the long, pendulous male flowers of the alder are now attempting to pollinate the small reddish, upright female flowers of the wetland growingRead more

Nuthatch Excavation

The small bird in the above photo, with the gray back and wings, white underparts and brown head and nape, is a brown-headed nuthatch. The nuthatch is pausing between bouts of vigorous pounding away (below) at the trunk of a black willow in our Wetlands. Another nuthatch was working these willows at the same time last year. Last year’s pounding resulted in a cavity where a pair nested some twenty feet from the trees this bird now works. It couldRead more

The Feeders

OK, in the past few weeks we’ve had days with snow, ice, and some very cold temperatures. We’ve also had a solid week, seven days, with temps in the sixties and seventies. And now, it’s chilling down again. Not long ago the local birds were singing a happy tune. Now it seems all they care about is putting on fat, the bird feeders in Catch the Wind are busy! Here’s just some of the birds looking to put on weightRead more

Signs of the Seasons

Two sure signs of the changing seasons are the tap-tap-tap high up in the pines of the Brown-headed Nuthatches excavating nest holes, and ee-awKEEEE of the Red-winged Blackbirds in the Wetlands. We hear, and see, the nuthatches each year at this time as these little dynamos drill one, two, three or mores cavities into the soft wood of the pines. For all of their work they more than likely only use one of the holes to actually nest in. TheRead more

Family of Bluebirds

Ever since bluebird nest boxes were installed earlier this year in Catch the Wind, I’ve seen Carolina Chickadees, House Wrens, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and yes, the intended species, bluebirds, using the boxes. All of those species were observed building nests in the boxes, most laid eggs, and some were seen carrying food into the boxes and/or carrying out fecal sacs, a sure sign that there is young within. I may have missed some nest box activity. Birds don’t wait for meRead more

Aloft at the Museum

If you look skyward while walking the trails through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind you’re likely to see one of five hawks or vultures which are regular visitors to the Museum. Turkey Vultures are a daily sight as they soar, dip and bank across the Museum’s airspace. The slightly smaller Black Vulture, while seen at least once a week here at the Museum, is not as frequently encountered as the Turkey Vulture. Hardly a day passes without seeingRead more

Who’s Nesting

A Cooper’s Hawk was seen carrying prey on the 7th of June. The hawk appeared to be a female and was flying in the direction of the pines which surround the Ellerbee Creek Railway tracks near the train tunnel. This is the area in which Cooper’s Hawks nested last year. The fact that this bird was carrying prey, and was a female, seems to indicate that there were young Cooper’s Hawks in those pines waiting to be fed. I’ve yetRead more

Mergs depart, Early Arrivals, and the Dreaded Cowbirds

I hadn’t seen a Hooded Merganser in the Wetlands since March. On the clear, cool morning of the 10th, there was a lone female swimming circles in the open water of the Wetlands. By mid-morning the bird took flight, circled the Wetlands once and headed off in a northwesterly direction. Will the mergansers return? My records suggest not. The third week in April (now) is four weeks later than these birds were observed last year. A buteo soaring across theRead more

Nuthatch Landlords? Hollies under Assault?

There are still two pairs of Hooded Mergansers present in the Wetlands. There is one pair of Canada Geese present. Red-tailed Hawks continue to be seen daily and Cooper’s Hawks have been noticed flying and perching in the vicinity of the previous year’s nest site. And, as mentioned above, Red-shouldered Hawks are once again showing up in the Wetlands. Eastern Phoebes are calling regularly in and around the Wetlands. Phoebes nest on ledges. I’ve witnessed the birds investigating potential nestRead more

Nesting Duck? Excavating Nuthatches, and Waxwings Aplenty

On Saturday, February 21, I noticed a duck (a Mutt Duck, Mallard x Domestic Duck that’s often seen in the Wetlands) sitting hunched down on the small island out in front of the Wetlands Overlook. There are two of these Mutt Ducks in the Wetlands. They’re very similar in appearance with dark brown bodies and white chests. The male has a green head, the female’s head is brown. I was looking at the female. The duck was nestled down inRead more