The Fake Milkweed Bug

Top Photo: Mystery bugs. Just outside the doors leading from Play To Learn in the main building here at the museum, and on your right, is a small garden planted with native prairie plants. I stop here when I pass through Gateway Park to watch goldfinches pick the seeds from the various herbaceous plants in the garden. And, there’s a large pokeweed in the center of the garden which attracts fruit eating birds. Catbirds seem especially fond of poke berries.Read more

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

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

Spring Happenings

Before and after your visit to the Red Wolf Enclosure to see the wolf pups out in Explore the Wild, be sure to keep a keen lookout for some of our local wild fauna here at the Museum. The garden in front of the Butterfly House, the sides of the paths around our outdoor loop, and the Wetlands are host to many a diverse creature waiting for your discovery. Currently, insects, frogs, and birds are stealing the show. Beetles, dragonflies,Read more

All Is As It Should Be

It is now May. Insects that we haven’t seen for months are back among us. Reptiles and amphibians are active as if winter had never happened. Many birds that have been far away in Central and South America have returned to the Museum grounds to make nests and raise families. It’s as if they never left. Keep your eyes and ears open for these creatures as you walk the paths and trails here at the Museum. I’ve gathered more thanRead more

Spring Happenings

Happenings over the past few weeks have been a bit overwhelming. Insects that have been held back from emergence by cooler than normal temperatures are doing so now, snakes and other reptiles have been performing their springtime rituals, neotropical migrants are moving through, and local nesters are doing just that, nesting. Some have already fledged their first broods. It’s been difficult for me to keep up with all of the biological happenings in terms of posting them to this Journal. That beingRead more

Catbird singing

Catbirds have been back for over a month but they’re more obvious now than they had been, they’re singing. Gray Catbirds are mimic thrushes. They’re in the same group of birds as Northern Mockingbirds and Brown Thrashers. They sometimes imitate other birds or sounds in their local area. One catbird here at the Museum does a very good job of imitating the “police” whistles used by the Animal Keepers to call in the bears. But what ever the catbird imitates,Read more

Groundhog Juveniles

Two young Groundhogs have been seen munching on the grass along the side of the path just past Catch the Wind on the back side of the Outdoor Loop. I first saw them with Mom on the 16th of this month and have seen them several times since, with and without Mom. Keep a lookout for these little guys.Read more

Avian Arrivals and Some Flowers.

Returning this week (4/17-4/24) from points south were Chimney Swift, Gray Catbird, Wood Thrush, House Wren and White-eyed Vireo, all locally nesting birds. The female Belted Kingfisher has once again made herself scarce, presumably sitting on eggs. I briefly saw the male on Friday, 23 April. Black Locust is in bloom as is Old Man’s Beard (not the guy on the left, but the tree, Fringetree). The former can be seen on the opposite side of the water from the WetlandsRead more