Drop-In Ducks

Above: common goldeneye (top center) with hooded mergansers. Hooded mergansers are regular winter waterfowl visitors to the museum. But, we occasionally have other waterfowl drop in. On Thursday, November 7, I spotted a female common goldeneye mixed in with the regulars. Goldeneyes are not common here on the Piedmont. In fact, they’re listed as rare to uncommon in our area at this time of year, which means some goldeneyes may be in the area, but you may or may notRead more

Mergansers Are Back!

The first hooded merganser of the season arrived in our wetlands on Halloween. On November 1, there were four mergs. There are currently six, two males and four females, swimming and diving in the wetlands. Enjoy!Read more

Hooded Mergansers

Since the arrival of the first of the season, lone male merg back at the end of October, their numbers have steadily increased. Over the past few weeks the congregation in our Wetlands has ranged from the twenties and thirties, into the forties. I counted 41 mergansers on 5 December. They have been very busy pair bonding and feeding. They show a preference for feeding under and around the Main Wetlands Overlook where many golden shiners have concentrated. But, as mentioned in a previous post, theRead more

Pairing Up

Like great blue herons, another denizen of the Wetlands, at least from November to April, hooded mergansers also enjoy large concentrations of golden shiners pushed up against the banks of the Wetlands, easy pickins.     But instead of standing around preening (although they do preen during the day) while waiting for we humans to depart before feasting, the mergansers have been busy occupying their time with important issues, as in, finding a mate. The mergansers won’t actually be mating at this time,Read more

Lepidoptera, Mantodea, and Anseriformes

There are still a few monarchs hanging about. I saw two of them on Sunday (11/15/15) in the garden on either side of the steps leading to the Butterfly House here at the Museum. I also saw an American lady and a cabbage white butterfly. All were nectaring on the asters on the west side of the steps.       Also in the garden was a Chinese mantid. It, was warming itself on a metal sculpture of the sun.Read more


  There are now eight mergansers floating about the Wetlands. They looked a bit apprehensive as they cautiously swam around the water this morning. There were many high-energy school children making their various ways through Explore the Wild and the mergansers were keeping a wide eye focused on the activity. They will likely relax as the days roll along. Get ready for their pair bond displays as more females arrive on the scene.Read more

A nice day to be out in the Wetlands

  With daytime air temps reaching fifty-nine degrees on Wednesday (12/17), at least one of our resident turtles made it out for a little sunbathing. A male yellow-bellied slider was awakened by the intense sunshine of the day. The sun’s warm penetrating rays apparently reaching and warming the bottom of the pond sufficiently to stimulate the turtle into crawling out on a log and bask away the afternoon.     It’s in no way unusual to see a turtle outRead more

Making the Pair Bond

  Yes, it’s that time of year again when the male mergansers that call our Wetlands their winter home, strut their stuff in an effort to win the hearts of the females. The males perform pair bond displays in the fall and winter, pumping out their chests, shaking their black and white crested heads, rearing back and emitting rolling, croaking sounds. It’s much more efficient for these ducks to form pairs during the winter. Time is critical during the breedingRead more

Home Ice

We’ve had over a dozen hooded mergansers in the Wetlands for the past week or so. Monday and Tuesday nights (11/17 & 11/18) were cold enough to freeze over the water. There was one merganser on the pond Wednesday morning. The lone merg swam back and forth in a small open spot of water nervously looking about, presumably, for an escape route should she need it. The bird was fairly close to the Wetlands Overlook and I was making her nervous.Read more

And Then There Were Two

Yesterday I reported a bufflehead in the Wetlands. Well, another bufflehead found its way into our little wetland.     The two diving ducks are sticking close to each other, swimming and diving as they go. They stick so close, in fact, that when swimming along together as in the photo, one will dive under the water to search for food while the other waits for it to surface before proceeding. Ah, togetherness.Read more