Turtle Nest Time

It’s turtle nesting season. There’ve been numerous aquatic turtle sightings along the paths and outdoor exhibits in the past few weeks, this week especially so. Both sliders and painted turtles have been observed searching for suitable nesting sites. Some have been seen in the act of digging a nest and laying eggs. After a satisfactory site is chosen the turtle urinates on the site loosening the hard clay making digging much easier. Digging is done with the hind legs. OnceRead more

Spring Happenings

Last week started cool, temperature-wise, but ended with a warmth that brought out all manner of creatures and plants that had been lying in wait for just that moment to arrive. There are a lot of photos to show and things to discuss, so let’s start with the snake above. It was pointed out to me that someone here at the museum had seen a water snake back at the end of February or in early March. We had someRead more

A Trapped Turtle

Top photo: common snapping turtle below the surface. It was morning on the 12th of May. I received a call from Animal Keepers, Autumn and Sarah about a snapping turtle seen near the entrance to the bear compound. When I arrived on the scene the snapper had entered a small swamp between the compound and the open water of the Wetlands and was heading towards the water. The turtle had probably been out laying eggs and was now headed back toRead more

Turtle Time

Top photo: Courtship display by male (foreground) yellow-bellied slider. By this time of year I should have seen six, eight, even a dozen female turtles walking along the paths here at the Museum. Each spring, our aquatic turtles leave the water in search of safe places to dig a nest and lay eggs. I’ve only seen three turtles out and about this season. Two of those were relayed to me by Animal Keepers Autumn and Sarah. One was an eastern musk turtle, theRead more

Spring Rolls Along

Spring continues to move along and the flora and fauna here at the Museum rolls along with it. Thousands, no, millions of neotropical migrant birds are moving through our area, flowers are inviting insects to pollinate themselves, tadpoles are becoming frogs, fish eggs have hatched, and an old friend showed up in the Wetlands. Warblers, thrushes, cuckoos, swallows, and many other birds are migrating north at this time. Most migrate at night (less likely to be seen by hungry hawkRead more

Some Old Familiar Faces

The fine weather of the past week has brought out some old friends. A large female northern water snake that likes to spend her spring days basking in the sun under the still bare branches of the dawn redwoods at the base of the boardwalk is back doing just that. Look for her on the right side of the boardwalk as you walk down the last descending portion of the boardwalk.       Although a few common snappers haveRead more

Turtles, Turtles, Turtles

Over the past three weeks I’ve come across 13 juvenile Yellow-bellied Turtles. I’ve either spotted them myself at known nest sites or Museum guests and staff have spied them, and in some cases, brought them to me after finding the little herps wandering around the campus. Who knows how many of the turtles have gone unseen while making their way to the Wetlands here at the Museum. How many of the turtles wander off in the wrong direction, away fromRead more


What are all of these people looking at? Why, it’s a tiny snapping turtle! Just minutes earlier the little snapping turtle was spotted crossing the macadam that makes up the path through Explore the Wild. With mud still caked onto its shell and body from the dig out of its underground nest, the turtle wasted no time hustling around the giant feet of Museum guests and across the pavement for what would be its first dip into the Wetlands’ muddyRead more

Snappers and Mergansers, and Migration Notes of Interest

At least one pair of snapping turtles have already been seen mating here at the Museum and, as we’ve observed in years past, one of the big Chelydrids was seen basking on a boulder in the middle of the Wetlands soon afterwards. The second half of March is typically the last we see of our visiting mergansers, although the latest that I’ve seen them here was April 10, which gives them about another week and a half in the area.Read more