Time to Get Outside

Top Photo: Banded sphinx moth caterpillar. A banded sphinx moth caterpillar is an impressive sight. The one shown here is munching away on wing-leaved primrose-willow in our wetlands. Banded sphinx moth caterpillars are variable and may be nearly all green, much like its relatives the tobacco hornworm and tomato hornworm, mostly green with black, red and yellow markings or like the one pictured, which is marked with red, black, and yellow. Regardless, they all have the white diagonal stripes characteristicRead more

Three Birds to Watch For

Don’t fret. If you visited the museum to get a look at our wintering female common goldeneye to add to your NC, year, month, or whatever other birding list you may be working on, and you missed her, she’s still around. Yes, there are days when she takes off for other fishing holes, but so far, she’s always come back. Though, she’s not always glued to the mergansers as in many of my photos of her would suggest. She frequentlyRead more

Mergansers, Kingfishers, Shiners, and Gambusia (mosquitofish)

Last week, I posted that hooded mergansers, annual visitors from the north, have arrived in our wetlands for the season. They’re busily forming pair-bonds as I write. Over the years I’ve counted as many as 41 mergs at one time floating on our wetland’s water here at the museum. Early in the season it’s not unusual to see larger numbers until the fish-eating diving birds disperse, pairs and small groups choosing their favorite ponds and lakes at which to rest,Read more

What Feather

At the tail end of this past winter, I noticed a feather floating in the water just off the boardwalk. It was black with white triangular notches on the inner vane. The feather looked to be about 4 inches long, maybe a bit smaller. By its shape, I could tell that it was either an inner primary or secondary feather (wing feather) of a medium sized bird. This feather both puzzled and troubled me. The feather puzzled me because IRead more

The Pace Quickens

As the days pass, more and more species step in line. Plants and animals that have been waiting out the cold spring to life as the daytime temperatures hit the 70s and the nights level off in the fifties. A couple more days of chilly (not cold, but chilly) weather and it will all be behind us. Elms and Silky Willows are blooming, butterflies are emerging, and frogs and birds seem eager to get on with starting families, or atRead more

What’s all the fuss about?

Ah, nature…peaceful, quiet, serene, all creatures living together in perfect harmony. Not hardly! When I arrived at the Wetlands on Wednesday morning (10/30) I heard the unmistakable rattle of kingfishers. There were two female kingfishers in the Wetlands. As I watched, one of the birds flew over to a birch snag next to the Wetlands Main Overlook and rattled away. Seconds later another kingfisher flew directly at the first kingfisher forcing it off its perch. Except for the breeding seasonRead more

Kingfisher Quest

The Quest On April 16, I was inspecting the bluebird nests here at the Museum. I was not working that day but happened to be in town and didn’t want to miss any exciting happenings inside the nest boxes, so I took a peek. As I crossed the main parking lot I heard the unmistakable rattle of a kingfisher overhead. I looked up. There, streaking through the blue sky were three kingfishers. The birds seemed on a direct course for EllerbeRead more

Seasonal Firsts and other Exciting News

For the last month we’ve had a trio of mallards staying with us. Mallards are nothing unusual anywhere in North America but we haven’t attracted many here in our wetland over the past several years. The current trio, two drakes and a duck, have been foraging heavily. One day I noticed them intently digging and mucky around in the swamp across from the Main Wetlands Overlook, between the overlook and the Black Bear Compound. The mallards were probing the mud and leavesRead more

Spring Update

Although at times it doesn’t feel like it, it really is spring. And, this is an update as to some of what has been going on outside here at the Museum during the past spring-like week. I saw the first of the year Falcate Orangetip on 16 March. They, like the mild spring temperatures, are a bit behind schedule. Last year the first sighting was March 6, the year before it was March 8 before I spied one. On TuesdayRead more