YCNH and…

Top Photo: Immature plumaged yellow-crowned night-heron pays visit to wetlands. Night-herons have been observed in our wetlands four, perhaps, five times. All but one of those birds was a yellow-crowned night-heron (YCNH), the other, a black-crowned night-heron (BCNH). Of the YCNHs, one of them arrived in May and spent most of the 2011 summer. The other birds were only seen briefly, for one or a few days each. As you might suspect, night-herons often hunt at night and sleep awayRead more

Final Nest Box Update 8.1.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. The bluebird nesting season here at the museum is officially over. There’s no activity in any of our six nest boxes. The table below is a total of all the birds fledged since 2012, when I first began monitoring the nest boxes. There were a total of 36 birds fledged this season. The best years for bluebirds were during the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons. Chickadees had their best years in 2013, 2018, and 2023,Read more

Tussocks and Other Summer Treats

Top Photo: Sycamore tussock moth caterpillar crawls along railing. If there are sycamore trees in the area you’re likely to run into one or more of these fuzzy, tufted caterpillars. The adult sycamore tussock moth has tan wings crossed with slightly darker bands on translucent membranes. More common and widespread than the sycamore tussock moth caterpillar, is the white-marked tussock moth caterpillar. It’s been reported munching on over 140 host plants including conifers. White-marked tussock moth’s adult form is aRead more

Nest Box Update 7.25.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We are now down to zero nest activity. ————————— The Cow Pasture nest which held five house wren nestlings last week has fledged them all. I could hear them in the woods behind the nest box as we checked in on them this morning. The remaining five nest boxes are empty. ——————————— I’m calling the season over. I’ll make one last trip around the nest box trail at the start of next week, but IRead more

Spiny-backed Spider and More

Top Photo: Spiny-backed orb weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) Only about 1/2” wide, spiny-backed orb weavers are distinctive for their shape and pattern. The individual pictured is mostly white with black markings and red spikes. But, they may also be yellow or red with shades in between. The spines may be black. Some suggest the spines may deter predators such as birds or even subterranean-nesting, spider-seeking, solitary wasps. I doubt birds would be put off by the spikes. I must admit, though,Read more

Nest Box Update 7.11.23 and 7.18.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. (This post covers two weeks of nest box inspections due to my absence) We have one active nest, the Cow Pasture. ————————— The Cow Pasture nest has what looks to be five house wren nestlings. The oversized bills on the birds give it away. (Thanks to Ranger Dakota and Volunteer Sammie for getting a photo of the nestlings last week – 7/11/23). Previously, there were six eggs in the nest but in both photos, fromRead more

Nest Box Update 7.4.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We have one active nest, house wrens for a second brood at the Cow Pasture. ————————— The Cow Pasture nest, as it did last week, has six house wren eggs. I was expecting nestlings. I didn’t see or hear an adult in the area which makes me wonder whether this nest has been abandoned. Though, six eggs is a large investment for these birds to quit. We’ll see what happens next week. The Explore theRead more

Nest Box Update 6.27.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. It’s now down to one active nest, a second brood by house wrens. —————————— The nest box at the Cow Pasture now has six house wren eggs. This nest has already produced 4 house wrens. This is the second brood of the season. The Explore the Wild, Into the Mist, and Parking Deck East nest boxes are all empty. I expected an empty nest at Parking Deck West during this week’s inspection of the nestRead more

Nest Box Update 6.20.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We have two active nests. One is a rebuild and second brood by house wrens. The other, a bluebird nest about to fledge its occupants. ——————— The Cow Pasture nest which was empty last week, and which has already fledged four house wrens is at it again. After cleaning out the nest box and putting in a new berry basket, wrens have again built a classic twig nest in the box. No eggs yet. ExploreRead more

Nest Box Update 6.13.23

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. There is only one active nest on our six nest box bluebird trail. ————————— The Cow Pasture, Explore the Wild, Into the Mist and Parking Deck East nest boxes are currently unoccupied. When opening the inspection door o the Parking Deck West nest box there were five bluebird nestlings huddled into the bottom of the  pine straw nest, eyes yet to open. I took my obligatory picture and let them be. The final next boxRead more