Northern Water Snake vs Copperhead (rerun)

Top Photo: Copperhead Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten several emails with attached photos requesting the identification of the snake in the pictures (copperhead). With that in mind, and the fact that fall is upon us, and copperheads will be moving about more, I offer a link to a previous post on distinguishing copperhead from northern water snake, both locally common on the North Carolina Piedmont. The following first appeared in May of 2013 Click here > Northern WaterRead more

Some Outdoor Goings-on

Top Photo: Two adult red-tailed hawks silhouetted against the clouds as they soar above Butterfly House. Note that each bird is molting. The two red-tailed hawks above successfully nested on the museum grounds. They’re regular nesters. I rarely see eastern cottontails on our 84 acre campus, until this year. I’ve seen more this spring and summer than I have in perhaps the last 14 years of hiking the museum’s trails. Predator numbers must be down. Besides the red-tailed hawks above,Read more

Nest Box Update 6.21.22

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We have two fledged bluebirds and four more in the same nest which are ready to fly the coop. The other five nest boxes are empty and waiting for occupation. The Cow Pasture bluebirds which numbered six last week, are fledging. There were four bluebirds tucked into the nest against our intrusion this morning, two had already fledged. The coaxing parents were in the trees above us as we peeked into the nest box. I’llRead more

Nest Box Update 5.24.22

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We currently have 12 eggs in two active nests on our bluebird trail. One nest holds 6 bluebird eggs, the other 6 house wren eggs. I was surprised to find 3 additional eggs above last week’s 3 in the Cow Pasture nest on today’s inspection of nest boxes. As I mentioned last week, the second brood is usually smaller one than the first. This nest has as many eggs as the initial nest in thisRead more

Robber Flies

Top Photo: Giant robber fly Some call them assassin flies. I first learned of them as robber flies. Whatever you call them, they’re predatory flies which perch out in the open, often near areas with heavy insect traffic in order to wait in ambush to snatch other insects out of the air. Visit a flowering group of Tithonia, milkweed, Joe Pye weed, or other rich nectar source with insects busily flying from flower to flower and you might see oneRead more

Feeder Wishes

Top Photo: Pine siskins at an older feeder here at museum, February 2013. I’ve been waiting patiently for winter birds to show up at the feeders here at the museum. Oh, I’ve seen red-breasted nuthatches, white-throated sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, (it’s always good to see them each year) and of course, all the local characters, like chickadees, titmice, white-breasted and brown-headed nuthatches, and so on. What I’m waiting to see is pine siskins and evening grosbeaks. Those two birds are irregularRead more

Parasitic Wasp and Caterpillar

Top Photo: Mystery objects on redbud leaf. Rangers Becca and Robert discovered an unusual leaf mixed in with the regulars in the leaf liter at the base of a redbud tree next to the path near the Cafe Plaza. The leaf had dozens of objects attached which appeared to the two rangers as some sort of insect eggs or larvae. A radio call and several minutes later, I was staring at the objects myself. My first impression was of someRead more

What’s Out There?

Top Photo: Great blue skimmer with prey. In one rather quick trip around the outdoor loop here at the museum I came upon a good bunch of interesting sights. In no particular order, here’s some of them. There are banana trees planted at several locations throughout the museum’s outdoor areas. The one pictured is in the garden next to Sprouts Cafe. Pomegranate is growing next to the bananas. Along the edge of that same garden I spotted a banded longhornRead more