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

Siskins and Catkins

  Pine siskins are finches. They are close in size and shape to American goldfinches, a common year-round bird here in the Piedmont. Siskins nest far to the north and west of our area in coniferous or mixed forests. Here, they are considered winter finches because they only show up in winter, although one or two may linger well into spring. Siskins are, however, sporadic in their visitations, some years they’re here, some years they’re not. The winter of 2012-2013Read more

American Gold

Our goldfinches are starting to molt into alternate, or breeding, plumage. As we move into spring, the males forsake their drab olive-gray coloring for the bright yellow, black, and white feathers of their breeding plumage. Their bills lose the dull gray-blackness of winter for the bright orange of the mating season. Goldfinches molt into their basic (non-breeding) plumage in the fall. The birds molt all of their feathers at this time, wings, tail (flight feathers), and body (contour) feathers. ThisRead more

Siskins, others, and a sign of the season to come (maybe)

The cold weather following the cold front last Wednesday night brought with it increased activity at the bird feeders in Catch the Wind. There had been one Pine Siskin hanging around for a couple of weeks and Ranger Kristin reported 6 siskins at the feeders on Sunday (1/27) but it took the cold to bring in a group of 18 of the little finches. The birds had nearly cleaned out the thistle feeder, it was getting very low on seed,Read more

Great Backyard Bird Count

This past weekend I, along with Rangers Kristin and Sara, participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The count is a joint project organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada. The count spans four days but you only have to count one day if time is short, and only fifteen minutes of that day if you’re really pressed for time. The requirements for participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count are a willingness toRead more