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

Wood Ducks

I’ve seen wood ducks in our wetlands perhaps a dozen times, although they’re probably here more often then they’re seen. Wood ducks are secretive birds and tend to stay hidden among the willows of our wetlands during the Museum’s open hours. On Thursday of last week I heard a wood duck call from the far side of the wetlands. Wood ducks don’t quack, but make various kinds of squeaky, whistling sounds. It’s often the only sign that there’s a woodRead more

All in a Day’s Work

It was midday on a hot, muggy day in June. There were four juvenile raccoons on an island thirty or so feet from the boardwalk where I and two museum visitors stood watching them. An adult raccoon (I assume the mother) was in the lead. She was trying to coax the little ones into the water. What were the raccoons doing on the island? There’s a wood duck nest box on the island. It was installed about five years agoRead more

Nest Box Clean-up and Mix-up

If you’ve ever been in Explore the Wild and looked out over our Wetlands here at the Museum you may have noticed that there are two wood duck nest boxes planted there. One is on the far side of the Wetlands, the other on a small island about halfway across the water.     The nest boxes are there in an attempt to convince a pair or two of the hooded mergansers that winter here at the Museum into stayingRead more

Hooded Merganser Nest

Unfortunately, the mergansers in the above photo do not reside in our Wetlands. I saw a report on the local bird listerv that a couple of broods of wood ducks and one merganser brood was seen at Sandy Creek Park on the south side of Durham. The park is located at the end of Sandy Creek Drive on the northwest side of the intersection of Hwy 15-501 and Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, just shy of 8 driving miles distance from theRead more

A young Duck and a young Turtle

First, click here, come back, and then we’ll talk about it. Photographer Bill Majoros captured the photo (linked to above) at Duke Gardens here in Durham, NC. The duck is a young male Wood Duck and the turtle looks to be a Red Ear Slider although I’m not positive about the turtle’s ID. According to Bill, he observed this “…wood duck giving this nice little turtle a “free ride” across the duck pond at Duke Gardens.” After asking Biil what happenedRead more

3 Bald Eagles!

A female Wood Duck was in the Wetlands on the 21st of September. Traditionally, the third week in September sees a push of migrating hawks through the region when the winds are from the north. More often than not, the winds were from the north during the third and fourth weeks in September. Unfortunately for those of us who like to watch hawks and also reside in the piedmont, most migrating hawks move along the ridges in the western partRead more

Wood Ducks Drop in for Visit

A pair of Wood Ducks graced the Wetlands with their presence during the period. They were on the far side of the water near the willows. As I’ve said before, you never know what’s going to come swimming out of the willows. I’ve caught an occasional glimpse of at least one Wood Duck during the summer months, but haven’t seen a male and female together until the first week in September. Green Herons are a daily sight in the Wetlands.Read more

A Wood Duck and a Cuckoo

A Wood Duck flew into the Wetlands at dusk during the Museum’s Black Light Insect Hunt (read about the Black Light Insect Hunt). Yellow-billed Cuckoos spend much of their time lurking about high up in the trees. I most often see them when they’re flying from one tree to another, and it appears that they’re always in a hurry to get to the other tree. They search for caterpillars on tree branches or on leaves, slowly and methodically hopping alongRead more