The Changing Environment and Chronolog

Top Photo: Wetlands in summer. If you haven’t been to the museum’s wetlands in a while (let’s face, not many people have since this past March) and you miss it, here’s a few shots of what it looks like now. Back in March the deciduous trees were just beginning to leaf and aside from the needles of the loblolly pines the scape was shades of grays and browns. Now it’s full of color with the black willows, redwoods, cypress, maples,Read more

Confusing Butterflies

Top Photo: Pearl crescents mate. There are two small, orange and black butterflies in our area that are very similar in appearance and may easily be confused with one another. I’ve gotten them mixed up on more than one occasion. As mentioned, both are orange and black, both fly low to the ground and both can be found in the same habitat, though one prefers wetter areas. First, a warning, the butterflies are variable in pattern and coloration. They don’tRead more

What’s Happening on the Outdoor Loop

Top Photo: The Wetlands in summer. If you’re familiar with the museum’s outdoor loop through Catch the Wind and Explore the Wild, you may be happy to know that life goes on as it always has in the past. There are, though, a few changes around the bend. Here, a few familiar sights and a few behind the scenes sneak previews. Shrubby St. John’s wort is in bloom, as it is each year at this time. The 4 foot tallRead more

Nest Box Update 6.9.20

An easy accounting of the nest boxes this week, there’s only one active nest. The nest box on the west side of the parking deck held four bluebird eggs last week. An adult male flew out of the box as I opened the side access door this morning. Presumably, the male had been incubating. There should be chicks by next week’s inspection. This may be a good time to clean out the old nests in the inactive nest boxes andRead more

Two Hoppers and Two Flies

Top photo: American bird grasshopper. Insects are with us throughout the year whether as eggs, pupa, or in some species, adults. But it’s spring and summer when we start seeing them in numbers. Many of the adults that you’re seeing now have spent the cooler months safely tucked away and are just emerging as adults after an entire season below ground, embedded in wood, or in eggs cases attached to last year’s plant growth. American bird grasshoppers (top photo) overwinterRead more

Box Turtle

I don’t see many box turtles at the museum. The habitat’s right but I can remember seeing only one or two of these terrestrial turtles in the twelve plus years I’ve walked the outdoor loop at the museum. Perhaps their scarcity is due to the fact that our 84 acre campus is surrounded by suburbia and ever increasing traffic on the roads around and through the area. These turtles have a bad track record in face-to-face encounters with cars. BoxRead more

Turtle Logs

Top Photo: Three of five sets of new turtle perches in Wetlands. With our changing wetlands and growing turtle population, basking perches for our resident turtles are at a premium. As old snags and logs that used to be in the wetlands rotted and decayed it’s become tough for a turtle to find a place to sun itself. It’s sometimes a tight squeeze for our aquatic turtles. A half a dozen years ago, I tossed in a 10’ pine logRead more

A Toad and a Treefrog

Top Photo: Cope’s gray treefrog on cedar limb. March thru April is the peak breeding season for American toads here at the museum and they’ve been out calling and mating in numbers. American toads are one of two true toads found here on the Piedmont, the other is Fowler’s toad. I’ve only heard Fowler’s toad on one or two occasions on our campus. American toad is the one you’re most likely to see and hear. The warm weather of thisRead more

Nest Box Update 3.23.20

I hadn’t conducted a nest box inspection since 10 march. At that time there was a nearly complete chickadee nest in one nest box and a mere sprinkling of moss on the bottom of another nest box (chickadee). There are now five nests in our six nest boxes here at the museum. Three nest are chickadees. Two are bluebirds. One nest box is empty. There are no eggs. The nest box at the Cow Pasture near the Ellerbe Creek RailroadRead more

Purple Martin Update

North America’s largest and probably most familiar swallow is the purple martin. The birds spend the winter in South America and return to eastern North America to nest. They’re almost entirely dependent on manmade structures to nest in, plastic or hollowed out natural gourds, large multi-room bird houses and other structures. The first arrivals from South America usually make it back to North Carolina by the first couple of weeks in March. One was spotted in Durham on February 12th.Read more