A Few Things To Look For

Top Photo: Hermit thrush inspects sumac seeds for possible consumption. While walking the outdoor loop through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind, it’d be worth your while to keep an eye out for what’s around you. Winter residents, hermit thrushes eat fruit, seeds, and invertebrates when available. Some trees retain the seeds they produced during the growing season until well into the winter, even within the same species. Most white ash trees typically disperse their seeds in fall. SomeRead more

A Few Winter Sightings

Top Photo: Bullfrog tadpoles react to disturbance in the water. In our area, bullfrogs may take 9 to 12 months to mature and become frogs. It may take much longer, perhaps two or even three years, in areas with cooler temperatures and shorter growing seasons. But here, in central North Carolina the bullfrogs that hatched from eggs this summer will become frogs next summer. During winter the bullfrogs tend to congregate in the shallow, muddy water on the north sideRead more

Have a Look Around

Top Photo: American robin on privet. Here’s some things to look for while you stroll around our Outdoor Loop Trail. American robins flock together in winter searching for food sources such as berry laden trees and shrubs. By this date last year Japanese apricot, or Chinese plum (Prunus mume) had been in bloom for two weeks. At this time in 2019 it had blossoms a week prior. It’s just now starting to come into flower this year. Hermit thrushes areRead more

The Hermit and The Hole

Top Photo: Hermit thrush perches on vine in Explore the Wild. There are three thrushes which regularly spend the winter at the museum, eastern bluebird, American robin, and hermit thrush. All are migratory to some extent, though our local robins and bluebirds stay put. Only one is exclusively a winter visitor. Hermit thrushes arrive in our area late September to October. By the middle of May they’re gone. Mostly insectivorous, they consume many berries during the colder, insect deficient winterRead more

Ilex

Top Photo: The red fruit and evergreen leaves of Ilex. Ilex is a genus of largely evergreen flowering plants which are very familiar to most people. Some Ilex have spiked leaves but, surprisingly, most varieties do not. After spring and summer pollination of their tiny white flowers, the plants produce red berries, more correctly called drupes, which persist throughout the fall and winter. The plants in the genus Ilex are more commonly known as hollies. The native holly, American hollyRead more

More Cedar Berries

  The cedar trees which line the fence at the Red Wolf Overlook have been, and still are, prolific in berries. The birds have noticed. This is a good spot to stand by and watch the avian parade. The birds move around in loose, mixed flocks searching for forage. And here, they have found what they were looking for. Most of the birds are migrants who will most likely spend the winter with us, if they don’t move further south laterRead more

Fall Arrivals

  Most of our winter staples have arrived here at the Museum. There are a handful of birds that arrive each fall at about the same time; yellow-rumped warbler, ruby-crowned kinglet, yellow-bellied sapsucker, hermit thrush, white-throated sparrow, and dark-eyed junco. There are other land birds that come in each year but those six are the main characters in our winter troop of feathered players. I haven’t seen a junco or a hermit thrush yet, but they’ve been observed in the local area outside ofRead more

Feeder Watch

Slow and steady is the best way to describe the activity at the bird feeders in Catch the Wind. The local residents are visiting the feeders as usual but there have been few winter birds yet. Our first Pine Siskin didn’t show up until the second week in January last winter and I don’t often see Fox Sparrows until sometime in January, so there’s no need to sound the alarm. That’s not to say that there are no winter species hereRead more

Hovering Hermit Thrush!

Hermit Thrushes are not especially adept at clinging to the sides of things the way a nuthatch, titmouse, chickadee, or even a bluebird is. Nor are they adept at hovering like a hummingbird, or perhaps a kinglet, who do quite a bit of hovering in case you didn’t know. No, Hermit Thrushes spend much of their time on the ground foraging among the leaf litter or foraging in fruit laden trees and vines. I often see a Hermit Thrush feeding onRead more

The Hollies

Last week I wrote about a small flock of Cedar Waxwings flying around the Outdoor Exhibit area of the Museum searching for berries. That’s what waxwings do. They’re nomadic and social. In winter you can expect to see flocks of these gentle birds wheeling across the countryside looking for fruit. You may not see them as often as you’d like (they are very attractive birds and worth your attention) but if you have a fruiting tree or vine nearby andRead more