The Squirrel at the Train Station

Top Photo: Gray squirrel enjoying bird seed. If you’ve ever ridden the Ellerbe Creek Railroad at the museum you may have seen this or another squirrel at the bird feeders. The rodent has no fear of people, feeds at its own leisure, and is quite plainly entertaining to watch. We have “squirrel proof” feeders at our official bird feeding site, Bird Viewing, in Catch the Wind. The feeder at the Train Station is more or less a freebie. Oh, andRead more

Eggs, Caterpillars, Stinkbugs and Laternflies

Top Photo: Hummingbird moth (Hemaris thysbe) egg on viburnum flower buds (shiny, round, green object). Hummingbird moth eggs are very small, about 1mm – 1.5mm. To see one of those swift flying, diurnal moths lay an egg requires being in the right place at the right time. Standing next to a viburnum (frequent host plant for this species) is a good place to be. I’m not sure of the right time, though a bright sunny summer’s day seems about right.Read more

Hackberry

Top Photo: Hackberry emperor caterpillar. Sometimes things just present themselves to you. While walking through Catch the Wind, a small green caterpillar dropped out of the sky and onto the pavement at my feet. I couldn’t quite place the caterpillar at first. Due to the “forked tail” on the caterpillar I assumed it was one of the prominents, a family of moths (Notodontidae) which consist of 60 some species of eastern forest moths. After searching through a most helpful guideRead more

Treefrog Encounter

Top Photo: Freshly morphed green treefrog clings to rush stem at edge of wetlands. While making the first round of the day through the Outdoor Loop at the museum, we rangers discovered a group of juvenile green and gray treefrogs in Explore the Wild. The frogs were clinging to the vegetation next to the sandstone steps at Water’s Edge. Most of the treefrogs were green treefrogs, a few were Cope’s gray. The frogs are clearly making use of the duckRead more

Hummingbird Moth Caterpillar

Top Photo: Can you find the caterpillar amongst the leaves? The literature states that hummingbird clearwings (Hemaris thysbe) lay their eggs on honeysuckle and viburnum, less frequently on a few other tree species. The moths have been documented laying eggs on viburnums here on campus and their caterpillars have been spotted on two different varieties of viburnum. The caterpillars reach a length of about 2 inches, a little less than half the size of some of the more familiar sphinxRead more

Brown Snake Babies

Top Photo: Juvenile northern, or DeKay’s, brown snake. Brown snakes are common here at the museum. They can be seen in any month of the year but are most frequently observed in late winter to early spring. They’re most often seen crossing the open pavement from one favored habitat to another, forest floor or grassy areas. It’s not uncommon to see one hanging from the talons or bill of a red-shouldered hawk during that period when the hawk’s nesting isRead more

Acadian

Top Photo: Acadian flycatcher nest on Dinosaur Trail. Acadian flycatchers are common enough in our area. Walk a mile or two along a local watercourse in spring and early summer and you’re likely to hear their emphatic PEE-chip call at several locations along the way. They prefer rather undisturbed forest habitat and typically choose riparian sites for nesting. They nest here at the museum. From below, the nest looks a mess, too flimsy to hold the maker let alone aRead more

Bullfrog Offal

Top Photo: American bullfrog. It’s a well known fact that red-shouldered hawks take crawfish from our wetlands. Besides actually being observed eating the crawfish, the hawks leave the claws of the arthropods on the railings of the boardwalk when they’re done. The evidence is clear. Frogs are also on the menu. The hawks, though, don’t typically leave frog parts on the boardwalk as a record of their passing. Last week, I was confronted by a mystery while walking down the boardwalkRead more

Nest Box Update 7.19.22 (The Final Count)

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird nest with eggs. There has been no activity in any of our six nest boxes. Though there are partial bluebird nests in the nest boxes at Explore the Wild and the east side of the parking deck, they haven’t be tended to for over a month. Likewise, the house wren nest in the nest box on the west side of the parking deck hasn’t been touched since June. I tallied the total birds fledged for eachRead more

Nest Box Update 7.12.22

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. There has been no activity in either of the six nest boxes on campus. The Cow Pasture, Explore the Wild, Into the Mist, Parking Deck East and West, and Butterfly house nest boxes are all inactive. Though there is a complete house wren nest in the nest box on the west side of the parking deck, it too is inactive. We will give the nest boxes one more inspection before calling it quits for theRead more