Some Outdoor Goings-on

Top Photo: Two adult red-tailed hawks silhouetted against the clouds as they soar above Butterfly House. Note that each bird is molting. The two red-tailed hawks above successfully nested on the museum grounds. They’re regular nesters. I rarely see eastern cottontails on our 84 acre campus, until this year. I’ve seen more this spring and summer than I have in perhaps the last 14 years of hiking the museum’s trails. Predator numbers must be down. Besides the red-tailed hawks above,Read more

Groundhogs, a Little Bear, and a Hawk

Top Photo: Oak stump and resident groundhog. Strolling through Wander Away in Catch the Wind, I noticed a gray, furry head poking out from the side of a large oak stump on the side of the path. I immediately stopped and reached for my camera. Inching forward, I was able to get a few shots of the young groundhog whose head was posed at the entrance to its burrow, its nose twitching for scent. Groundhogs are fairly common sights hereRead more

Oddly Red

Top Photo: Redbud beginning to bloom in the last week of October. Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a March bloomer in Durham County and surrounding areas. It was odd, but not totally surprising, to see buds about to open up on a redbud tree on the Dinosaur Trail this past week. Not surprising because, after all, we’ve been experiencing very mild weather with not a hint of frost. Even so, many of the leaves on this particular tree had turned toRead more

Red Tails Overhead

Top Photo: Immature plumaged red-tailed hawk soars over museum. If you’ve visited the museum in the past several months you’re probably aware of the red-shouldered hawks that have nested here this season, like just about every other year since I’ve been here. Their loud vocalizations as they soar above the outdoor loop make them quite noticeable to even casual observers. You may not have known, however, about the red-tailed hawks that nested alongside the parking lot on the south sideRead more

Hawks Identified

The answers to the hawk identifications from last week’s post “A Four Hawk Week” are as follows. Top Photo: Cooper’s hawk. The rest of the hawks are: Hawk 1 – Sharp-shinned hawk (immature) What you can see is the rounded wings, longish squared-off tail and small head. What you can’t see is the rapid flap, flap, flap and glide as the bird flies along. Quick movements usually means small bird. This is a small hawk. Some of the smallest malesRead more

Red-shouldered Hawk

A common sight here on the museum’s campus is the red-shouldered hawk. This one is fluffed up against the cold as it perches on a branch while surveying the swamp below for movement. Birds often fluff themselves up in cold weather, trapping air between the feathers effectively raising their R-value. Our resident red-shoulders are fairly tame, that is, they’re quite used to people. I’ve walked past them at a distance of less than ten feet without causing alarm. You couldRead more