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

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

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


  I first noticed the bird in the photo as it stood on the ground chasing insects in front of the Bungee Jump (Take Off). It is, as it says in the photo’s caption, a great-crested flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus). After the bird presumably caught and consumed the insect, or insects, it was chasing it flew up to one of the tell-tale poles that are everywhere in Catch the Wind and proceeded to preen, allowing many opportunities for photography. Here’s just a handfulRead more

Waxwings and Mulberries

I was cruising Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind for turtles that might have been looking for nest sites when I noticed that the branches of the mulberry tree that hangs over the path near the Sail Boat Pond were drooping very low. There were also many purple stains on the pavement below the branches. The mulberries were ripe. It was time to keep an eye out for berry loving birds raiding the trees in search of that ohRead 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

Phoebes, Coming and Going

Sometime in March I noticed an Eastern Phoebe frequenting the vending area in Explore the Wild. Knowing that phoebes readily nest on ledges (rock ledges, wood ledges, block ledges, any kind of ledges) I hoped for a nest within easy viewing distance. There are plenty of ledges on the building that houses the restrooms and vending area. A nest there would be very convenient for anyone wanting to spy on a bird’s nest. Phoebes have nested below the boardwalk each year since I’veRead more

Turtles, Phoebes, and Wood Ducks

I typically start seeing turtle hatchlings in March, those nestlings that have overwintered in the nest. This year it was April that brought out the nestlings. The nestlings were discovered in a variety of locations from the Butterfly House to Into the Mist, and of course, on the path next to the Wetlands. All hatchlings were sliders, either yellow-bellied or possible yellow-bellied x red-eared hybrids. This is always an exciting time of year, and many kids had an opportunity toRead more

Goings on

I like Phoebes. Phoebes are interesting birds. They almost constantly flick their tails forward and backward. They are flycatchers. They capture most of their food on the wing, both the bird and their prey items, that is to say they catch flying insects inflight. They are cold tolerant, meaning they can winter farther north than other flycatchers. Not all, but some of the birds that nest in our area remain here the entire winter. They manage to find food during someRead more