Bonus Features

Top Photo: A green heron contemplates its next move.

While making the rounds on my weekly bluebird trail nest box inspections I often come across other creatures besides the bluebirds, chickadees, and wrens that use the nest boxes on the trail.

Red-shouldered hawks nest in the woods next to the train tunnel as they have been off-and-on for years. The one pictured is a product of this year’s effort.

Immature red-shouldered hawk on Dino Trail.

I have to pass by the parking deck on the south side of the museum acreage to check two nest boxes. I’m well aware of eastern phoebes and house finches nesting on the beams of the parking deck, but I didn’t expect to find the bird pictured below.

Rock pigeon nesting behind Exit sign in parking deck.

Rock pigeons, as they’re now officially called, are not seen often here at the museum. They’re city birds. Building ledges, highway underpasses, and city parks are their hangouts. I saw one fly over the wetlands a few weeks back (probably our nester). But, over the years I can remember just two others. Each one was banded, which meant it was part of someone’s flock.

Each year, northern rough-winged swallows nest close by. When the young fledge, the parents lead them to the wetlands for training, how to catch flying insects. At first, they often need coaxing and would rather beg for their food.

Recently fledged northern rough-winged swallow, not sure what’s required.

Green herons are resident during summer. They stalk and actively pursue dragonflies, fish, tadpoles, and adult frogs.

Green heron snatches frog from wetlands.

Great blue herons too hunt for fish, frogs, tadpoles and anything else they can catch and swallow in our wetland.

Great blue heron slowly stalks its prey.

Box turtles are occasionally seen on the back service roads of our campus. I found the one below while checking the nest box at the Cow Pasture next to the Ellerbe Creek Rail Road Tunnel.

A box turtle.
This box turtle measures about 5″ from front to back of shell.

I could hear the unique sound of a somewhat familiar, but not often heard at the museum, type of engine roaring away above the forest canopy as I rounded a turn in the path. What was flying above the trees was a special kind of aircraft. Unfortunately, by the time I got to a clearing in the trees the bulk of the 128′ object had passed. I was only able to get a shot of the rear end of the airship, the Discovery Channel Shark Week Blimp. The front was a shark head. I got the under belly and tail.

Tail end of Shark Week Blimp.

You never know what’ll turn up.

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