Spring Already?

Top Photo: Male hooded merganser swims past a bale of turtles out basking on a warm February afternoon. Basking turtles, excavating nuthatches, blooming honeysuckle, sunning anoles, and mating hawks, all a part of the spring to come. Sliders come out on every available sunny winter day to bask, but they were out in force on a sunny 70 degree day this week. Brown-headed nuthatches commence cavity construction in soft-wood trees each February. They excavate many more holes than they useRead more

How Many Holes Would a Woodpecker Peck

Top Photo: Wood chips expelled from under-construction hole in willow. I first noticed the wood chips scattered about on the ground. I then heard the unmistakable sound of a wood-pecking bird hard at work, rap, tap, tap…rap, tap, tap. Could it be a woodpecker? a nuthatch? At first, I couldn’t see what was rapping and tapping away above me, that is, until the noisemaker stuck its head out of a hole twenty feet up in a willow snag on theRead more


It’s February, and what happens in February besides the Super Bowl and, this year, the Olympics? Spring! Well, not quite, but we’re getting there. To prove it, hazel alder is blooming (happens here at the Museum in Feb.), brown-headed nuthatches are excavating nest holes, and the red wolves are feeling amorous (sort of). The wind-borne pollen of the long, pendulous male flowers of the alder are now attempting to pollinate the small reddish, upright female flowers of the wetland growingRead more

Nuthatch Excavation

The small bird in the above photo, with the gray back and wings, white underparts and brown head and nape, is a brown-headed nuthatch. The nuthatch is pausing between bouts of vigorous pounding away (below) at the trunk of a black willow in our Wetlands. Another nuthatch was working these willows at the same time last year. Last year’s pounding resulted in a cavity where a pair nested some twenty feet from the trees this bird now works. It couldRead more

The Feeders

OK, in the past few weeks we’ve had days with snow, ice, and some very cold temperatures. We’ve also had a solid week, seven days, with temps in the sixties and seventies. And now, it’s chilling down again. Not long ago the local birds were singing a happy tune. Now it seems all they care about is putting on fat, the bird feeders in Catch the Wind are busy! Here’s just some of the birds looking to put on weightRead more

Signs of the Seasons

Two sure signs of the changing seasons are the tap-tap-tap high up in the pines of the Brown-headed Nuthatches excavating nest holes, and ee-awKEEEE of the Red-winged Blackbirds in the Wetlands. We hear, and see, the nuthatches each year at this time as these little dynamos drill one, two, three or mores cavities into the soft wood of the pines. For all of their work they more than likely only use one of the holes to actually nest in. TheRead more

Family of Bluebirds

Ever since bluebird nest boxes were installed earlier this year in Catch the Wind, I’ve seen Carolina Chickadees, House Wrens, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and yes, the intended species, bluebirds, using the boxes. All of those species were observed building nests in the boxes, most laid eggs, and some were seen carrying food into the boxes and/or carrying out fecal sacs, a sure sign that there is young within. I may have missed some nest box activity. Birds don’t wait for meRead more

Aloft at the Museum

If you look skyward while walking the trails through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind you’re likely to see one of five hawks or vultures which are regular visitors to the Museum. Turkey Vultures are a daily sight as they soar, dip and bank across the Museum’s airspace. The slightly smaller Black Vulture, while seen at least once a week here at the Museum, is not as frequently encountered as the Turkey Vulture. Hardly a day passes without seeingRead more

Who’s Nesting

A Cooper’s Hawk was seen carrying prey on the 7th of June. The hawk appeared to be a female and was flying in the direction of the pines which surround the Ellerbee Creek Railway tracks near the train tunnel. This is the area in which Cooper’s Hawks nested last year. The fact that this bird was carrying prey, and was a female, seems to indicate that there were young Cooper’s Hawks in those pines waiting to be fed. I’ve yetRead more