Ducks, Cherry Dogwood, Crocus, Geese, Sliders, and Mistletoe

Top Photo: Hooded mergansers float and reflect in the wetland’s water.

Here’s a handful of things to look for as you stroll around and through our outdoor areas during the last half of winter.

We hope to entice hooded mergansers to nest in our wetlands.

Male, left, and female hooded merganser.
Built for wood ducks, hooded mergansers also use these nest boxes.

Cornelian cherry dogwood’s flower buds are about to burst open into a bright yellow display of florescence. The small tree shown here is located on your right, just outside the main building’s door to Gateway Park.

Swelling flower buds of cornelian cherry dogwood.
About to burst open.

Though this is an early bloomer, an imminent bloom seems a bit premature. It typically doesn’t bloom until late February or March.

In Latin terms, the little tree’s name is Cornus mas. It’s a Eurasian native but apparently non-invasive.

Some of the crocus planted in front of the Butterfly House has poked up out of the mulched garden along the ramp leading to the exhibit.

Yellow crocus up and blooming.

I noticed a few yellow-bellied sliders out basking the other day. You may notice the same, on any given sunny afternoon during winter.

One of a few yellow-bellied sliders basking on a warm winter’s day.

While you’re in Explore the Wild, keep an eye out for a pair of mallards. They’re in the wetlands investigating nesting locations.

Male mallard keeps watch as female tips-up to feed.

Usually arriving in February, our local, and very vocal, Canada geese have come in early. There were nine in the wetlands on January 21st, and they’re already making territorial claims. You won’t be able to get through Explore the Wild without noticing the geese.

Just some of the geese staking claims in the wetlands.

While in Catch the Wind, keep an eye out for mistletoe growing from one of the young red maples planted in Earth Moves.

Mistletoe in Earth Moves.

There’s much more out there than what’s been mentioned here. Let me know what you see on your next trip around the loop!

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