Late Season Hyla*

Top Photo: Juvenile green treefrogs (2) huddle safe and secure inside unfurling leaves during late summer (look carefully). Both young and adult green treefrogs rely heavily on their color and posture to “hide” themselves from possible predation. They often, though, squeeze down into tight nooks or recesses for added protection, as the juveniles in the above photo illustrate. We installed three artificial “hides” around the outdoor exhibits for our resident treefrogs. And, believe it or not, there are still frogsRead more

Mid-November

Top Photo: Two of six hooded mergansers circle wetlands. As in every year since I’ve been working at the museum, hooded mergansers have arrived in our wetlands by mid November. This year, six were spotted on the early date of November 9, though only two of them actually dropped in. Four birds were seen making a pass at the museum’s wetlands but continued on elsewhere. Since that day, they’ve been seen on the 12th and again on the 15th whenRead more

Oak and Niko

Top Photo: Oak (left) and Niko carefully watch members of the Animal Care crew in their enclosure during routine maintenance. Now that word is out about the new pair of red wolves having arrived at the museum, Niko and Oak, you may want to come have a look at them. Both wolves are still getting used to their enclosure and the rush of people stopping in or passing by the exhibit space. They’ve only been on-site a handful of daysRead more

Yellowjacket, Green Anole, Winter Wren, and Marbled Spider

Top Photo: A worker yellowjacket enters the tunnel to its subterranean hive. Yellowjackets nest underground, though they may construct a hive in a hollowed out log, under the siding of your house, or in other seemingly vacant and unattended cavities. The ground, however, is the most frequent site chosen by a queen in spring. A single queen constructs the below-ground hive and tends to the initial eggs, larvae and pupae. Once workers emerge from pupation they take over all dutiesRead more

October Color

Top Photo: Ashleaf maple, or boxelder. On a walk around the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind Loop I photographed some of the fall color during the last week of October. Here’s some of those images.Read more

The Warblers and The Aphids

Top Photo: Northern Parula on river birch. The other day while down in Explore the Wild on a cool October morning there was an active group of migrant songbirds working the trees along the shoreline. The group was composed of mostly yellow-rumped warblers, a few northern parulas and some kinglets. While the yellow-rumped warblers (butter-butts) were attracted to the wax myrtle fruit, which is in abundance this year, a river birch tree held the attention of the other birds inRead more

Otters in the Midst

Top Photo: Otter latrine. I’ve been documenting the occurrence of otters in our wetlands since before 2010 when I saw tracks of one of the mustelids on snow covered ice in the wetlands. On one occasion during that time period I saw a large golden shiner, about 10” (they can reach 12”) floating in the water next to the Main Wetlands Overlook. It had a u-shaped mark on the middle portion of its body, as if something had grasped theRead more

October

Top Photo: Thorny olive flowers. If you happen to be strolling past the Farmyard and sense something powerfully fragrant invading your nose, it’s probably thorny olive (Elaeagnus pungens). It’s related to autumn olive and Russian olive, two invasive shrub species from Asia. We have much autumn olive on our campus, no Russian olive that I’m aware of and just a few locations overgrown with thorny olive which tends to ascend trees and nearby structures when it can. Thorny olive, unlikeRead more

A Dropped Feather

Top Photo: What bird’s feather? I found the feather (above) on the path, not far from the Dinosaur Trail. I knew it was a primary feather, one of the last primaries, furthest out on the wing. The outer primaries tend to be long and narrow in comparison to the inner primaries and secondaries. This feather was about 87 mm long. A primary feather that long would probably belong to a bird about the same size of a robin, or aRead more

Time to Get Outside

Top Photo: Banded sphinx moth caterpillar. A banded sphinx moth caterpillar is an impressive sight. The one shown here is munching away on wing-leaved primrose-willow in our wetlands. Banded sphinx moth caterpillars are variable and may be nearly all green, much like its relatives the tobacco hornworm and tomato hornworm, mostly green with black, red and yellow markings or like the one pictured, which is marked with red, black, and yellow. Regardless, they all have the white diagonal stripes characteristicRead more