Molt

  Each year, adult birds need to molt their flight feathers (the wing and tail feathers). The feathers wear out, become frayed, twisted, and in general less efficient. Some birds, like ducks and geese, lose all of their flight feathers at once, they can’t fly. Ducks and geese can afford to do this because they can spend their flightless days out on open water away from potential land-based predators. Most birds, though, need to fly every day, at a moments notice,Read more

High Flying Birds

It all started while on the Main Wetlands Overlook. I was talking about the previous week’s weather, birds, and other creatures with photographer Kevin Odom. There were currently alto cumulus and cirrus clouds above and I wondered if a front was moving in on us. Suddenly, in came a great blue heron. The bird landed on a boulder out in the Wetlands, looked around a bit and began to preen, a good opportunity to get some nice photos. Then, KevinRead more

Aloft at the Museum

If you look skyward while walking the trails through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind you’re likely to see one of five hawks or vultures which are regular visitors to the Museum. Turkey Vultures are a daily sight as they soar, dip and bank across the Museum’s airspace. The slightly smaller Black Vulture, while seen at least once a week here at the Museum, is not as frequently encountered as the Turkey Vulture. Hardly a day passes without seeingRead more

The Raven and the Vultures

As I stood on the Wetlands Overlook peeping through the viewfinder of my camera and waiting for a Yellow-rumped Warbler to magically appear on the Wax Myrtle nuts that my camera was focused on, I heard the call of a Common Raven. I heard the call several times before I realized that it was indeed a raven. It was December 10th and I had heard what I thought was a Raven several days before, but discounted it when the callingRead more

Missing Feathers

Many birds are currently molting their flight feathers (wing and tail feathers). Some have completed their molt while others are still in the process of doing so. I’ve found various wing feathers floating in the Wetlands, on the path around the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind loop, and at the Bird Feeder Exhibit. All birds molt. The wear and tear of daily life necessitates the replacement of old, worn feathers. While the contour feathers (the body feathers on the back,Read more