A Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s hawks are not uncommon here in Durham. Even so, I was surprised to see one perched in a willow 15 – 20 feet off the path in a black willow. The hawk watched intently as a dozen or so butter-butts flitted around the nearby wax myrtle bushes. Cooper’s hawks are almost exclusively bird eaters. When the warblers moved on, the hawk settled in for a bit of preening. Cooper’s hawks are one of three accipiters (long-tailed, forest hunting hawks)Read more

What Happened Here?

Near the Wetlands, and next to an American holly loaded with berries, stands a sapling elm tree. There are many such trees here at the Museum. But, as I walked past this particular pair of arboreal specimens I noticed several clusters of passerine contour feathers stuck to the thin branches of the small, bare elm. Most of the feathers were white, some had rufus colored centers. What happened here? When I see a group of feathers clumped together as on theRead more

Siskin Trouble

  It’s been cold, snowy, and icy the past few weeks (oddly, it’s in the 70s as I write this), and the birds have been going through bird seed like a kid through an ice cream cone on a hot day. I’ve had to refill both sunflower and thistle feeders every other day (4 different seed feeders and 3 suet feeders). We’ve had much larger numbers of birds at our feeders before, but whenever it’s cold or there is substantialRead more

Sleeping Wolves

While the wolves sleep, the birds reap. Animal keepers enter the Red Wolf Enclosure daily to both clean up and to drop off fresh meat in the form of meatballs. The meat is placed in various locations around the enclosure. Much of it’s picked up and wolfed down before the keepers leave the enclosure, but there’s often small tidbits left behind. I’ve often seen cardinals drop in to sample the raw meat. And Carolina Wrens sometimes fly in to pickRead more

Feeder Watch

Slow and steady is the best way to describe the activity at the bird feeders in Catch the Wind. The local residents are visiting the feeders as usual but there have been few winter birds yet. Our first Pine Siskin didn’t show up until the second week in January last winter and I don’t often see Fox Sparrows until sometime in January, so there’s no need to sound the alarm. That’s not to say that there are no winter species hereRead more

Coop

As I drove the golf cart along the path through Catch the Wind towards Explore the Wild I saw Ranger Rock standing on the side of the path intently staring at something in the upper swamp, a small wooded swamp on the northeast side of the campus. I parked the vehicle and quietly walked towards Rock. It was an overcast but warm December day. Ranger Rock had gotten the Bungee Jump set up for business ahead of time and decided toRead more

We have much to do before winter

With each passing cold front the temperatures are a little cooler, the humidity a little dryer, and winter a little closer. There’s plenty going on outside during this transitional time of year when we make the shift from summer to winter. It’s time to prepare for what’s to come and the birds, mammals, and insects are doing just that. As the cicadas wind down so too the activities of the Cicada Killer. Hopefully their burrows are stocked with cicadas forRead more

What else do they eat?

It was a cold and rainy end to the day, again. I was standing at the Red Wolf Enclosure with a few visitors talking about the wolves and their status in today’s world. All of the sudden, a Sharp-shinned Hawk came barreling in from the right hand side of the enclosure. Birds that had been foraging inside the enclosure scattered. The hawk circled through the trees and perched near the top of the ridge just outside of the enclosure’s fence.Read more

Great Blue Heron at Rest

When not stalking prey, or off to another nearby pond, lake, or river, the local Great Blue Heron spends much of its time perched on various objects around the Wetlands. Rocks, especially the two large rocks which can be seen left-of-center from the Wetlands Overlook, are the bird’s favorite perches. Here, the bird apparently feels safe to relax, far out in the water away from any would be predators. Often, after a long day of hunting, the heron retreats toRead more

Blue Jays Hoard, Butter-Butts Swarm

Mallards are back in the Wetlands. Three Mutt Ducks (Mallard x Domestic) and eight or so “normal” Mallards have been feeding and resting in the quiet water and under the Willow Trees. Canada Geese are paying regular visits to the Wetlands. For nearly a week after the passage of the cold front that moved through on the 18th/19th of October the skies were mostly clear with high cirrus clouds making it easy to pick out high flying birds. The 18thRead more