Three Birds to Watch For

Don’t fret. If you visited the museum to get a look at our wintering female common goldeneye to add to your NC, year, month, or whatever other birding list you may be working on, and you missed her, she’s still around. Yes, there are days when she takes off for other fishing holes, but so far, she’s always come back. Though, she’s not always glued to the mergansers as in many of my photos of her would suggest. She frequentlyRead more

What’s Going On Outside

If you’re walking the paths on a regular basis here at the Museum, you’re likely to see all manner of creature, winter, spring, summer, or fall. All of the creatures pictured below were photographed within the last few weeks. Brown snakes are common in this area. They attain lengths of approximately 12 inches, although the record is just over 19 inches. The individual in the photos above and below is a young one and is 6 to 7 inches. It wasRead more

Bufflehead

On December 15, I noticed a small gray duck swimming in proximity to the slightly larger hooded mergansers in our Wetlands. I immediately thought bufflehead. The last time I saw a bufflehead in the Wetlands was November of 2014 when two showed up. At least one of them stayed until 26, December. Sure enough, there was another this year. With the current freezing temps, all waterfowl had departed by the end of this week. Diving ducks, of which both mergansers andRead more

Waterfowl Update

The mergansers that had been occupying our Wetlands disappeared for four or five days, only one or two being seen on any given day. They now seem to come and go; one day they’re here, the next they’re not. However, I’ve not see their numbers approach the 30 plus of a several weeks ago. I now see anywhere from 10 to 12 at a time.     Another duck species which has returned is the bufflehead. One arrived last NovemberRead more

Duck Dance and Snowy Owl Update

  If you haven’t been down to the Museum’s Wetlands lately you should make a point of doing so. As I’ve mentioned several times in the last few weeks, the merganser numbers have increased. I’ve not seen as many of these magnificently plumaged birds in our Wetlands in the past 7 years. And, they’re putting on quite a show.     Pair bond displays are taking center stage out on the water. Sounds of splashing water and the rolling, croaking,Read more

Old Friends and a New Arrival

Hooded mergansers are back in the Wetlands. A handful of the fish eating waterfowl showed up over the weekend. I counted three males and a female this morning (11/7). While taking photos of the mergs, and just plain watching the birds swim about this morning, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a small, dark duck come in for a landing. I assumed it was a female merg coming in to join the others and went back toRead more

Redheads

In the six plus years that I’ve been here at the Museum I’ve never seen a Redhead in the Wetlands. There were four redheads swimming, diving, preening, and resting in our little quarry of a wetland on Wednesday morning (2/19/14). Redheads are diving ducks. They feed by diving under the water to retrieve submergent plants, mollusks, aquatic insects, and even small fish. Redheads spend the summer on the northern prairies and intermountain regions of the North American West where theyRead more

Lost Dinner

As I walked down the boardwalk into Explore the Wild, I noticed nine or so mergansers fishing for bullfrog tadpoles next to the boardwalk at the point where in goes to pavement. One of the birds was violently shaking something in its bill. I thought it a tadpole and tried to capture an image of the bird swallowing the amphibian. I watched as the bird shook the object and then drop it in the water, apparently to reposition it forRead more

What’s for dinner?

The small island that is directly off the boardwalk where that western red cedar structure makes a left hand turn on its way to the bear overlook is a hub of activity during at least part of each day. Fish are obviously congregated among the roots and tangle of branches under the water there. There are often mergansers fishing in this spot and it is easily viewed from the boardwalk as you descend. It’s also far enough away from the boardwalkRead more