Mallard Surprise

Top Photo: Six of 14 mallard ducklings in wetlands. I got a call on the radio telling me that there were, “a bunch of baby ducks swimming around in the wetlands,” specifically, the swampy area on the west side of the path near the Main Wetlands Overlook. I went to investigate. They were mallards, a female and at least thirteen ducklings (a later count totaled 14 ducklings). The ducklings were frantically feeding as the mother carefully swam along with them,Read 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

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

I saw the first hooded merganser of the season on Saturday, 2 November here in our wetlands. It was a single male. Today, three days later, there are seven of the fish eating, diving waterfowl. Besides fish, hooded mergansers eat aquatic insects, amphibians, crustaceans (that includes the invasive, dreaded, red swamp crayfish), mollusks and even some vegetation. Here in our wetlands the mergs typically arrive by mid November, with an occasional visitor in the latter part of October being theRead more

Merganser Are Back

Hooded mergansers typically arrive in our wetlands in November, from the first to third week in November. A trio showed up today (10/20) at the end of the third week of October. The birds usually get right to the business of pair-bonding upon arrival. The bonds are formed here on the wintering grounds and reinforced throughout the season. When, sometime next March and April, the birds head back north to the breeding areas the pairs are already formed and theyRead more

Season Changes and The Wolves

Migration has been underway for several months. Most of the northern insectivorous birds have passed us by for warmer climates. The majority of our local insect-eating birds have long since departed. Some still linger, like catbird, but they’re on their way out. Granivores like juncos, white-throated sparrows and others will arrive soon. It can’t be long before the butter-butts (yellow-rumped warblers) come in. I heard a yellow-bellied sapsucker the other day. Our winter visiting hooded mergansers should arrive next month.Read more

Nest Box Update 6.19.18

One nest box has fledged its occupants and another is waiting for its eggs to hatch. The Cow Pasture house wrens five nestlings have fledged. The nest was empty on this morning’s inspection. Explore the Wild and Into the Mist nest boxes are empty. There are 5 eggs in the bluebird nest at the Parking Deck nest box. An adult female bluebird flew from the nest as I approached it. I expect the eggs to have hatched by next week’sRead 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

Robins and Berries

You may have noticed numerous American robins about your lawn and shrubbery lately. They’re on the move. Flocks of these common birds are sweeping through our area. To most, robins are synonymous with earthworms. Who hasn’t witnessed a robin wrangling a worm out of the ground on a spring day? Truth is, besides the lowly worm robins eat plenteous fruit. If you happen to see robins swarming around a particular tree in your neighborhood, that tree may be loaded withRead more