Mid-November

Top Photo: Two of six hooded mergansers circle wetlands. As in every year since I’ve been working at the museum, hooded mergansers have arrived in our wetlands by mid November. This year, six were spotted on the early date of November 9, though only two of them actually dropped in. Four birds were seen making a pass at the museum’s wetlands but continued on elsewhere. Since that day, they’ve been seen on the 12th and again on the 15th whenRead 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

Duck Dance and Snowy Owl Update

  If you haven’t been down to the Museum’s Wetlands lately you should make a point of doing so. As I’ve mentioned several times in the last few weeks, the merganser numbers have increased. I’ve not seen as many of these magnificently plumaged birds in our Wetlands in the past 7 years. And, they’re putting on quite a show.     Pair bond displays are taking center stage out on the water. Sounds of splashing water and the rolling, croaking,Read more

Mallards, sort of

Besides the hooded mergansers and buffleheads swimming around our Wetlands, an old familiar male mallard has stopped in, with a different female than I’d seen him with previously.       I know this is the same drake mallard because of his plumage, he is not pure mallard. This drake has some domestic duck mixed in. The fact is, there are probably few pure mallards in our area although their plumage may or may not appear to be purebred mallard.Read more

Winter Visitors

I recently reported that at least two of our female mergansers have paired up with males. That’s certainly true, but there are still “singles” out there who have yet to make a commitment. And, the available males are not being shy about their intentions. One minute they’re swimming along peacefully, the next they shift into display mode. The mergansers are, for the most part, winter visitors here. And so are Hermit Thrushes. One of the best places to see aRead more

Warm and Wet

The past few days have been rather warm and humid, if not rainy. That will all change soon, there’s colder air moving our way. But until that cold front rolls over us, enjoy the warmth as some of our wildlife has been. I don’t think the warmer weather matters very much to the mergansers, as long as the water doesn’t freeze and they can get at the fish and tadpoles beneath the surface, they’re happy. The mergansers above seem toRead more

Who will you choose?

What are the three mergansers in the above photo up to, and why does the one on the right look as though he’s about to charge at the others? They’re engaged in a pair-bonding display, a competition of sorts. They’re trying to win the praise of a female merganser off to the side (just out of the picture). There’s a lot of head-shaking and strutting about during these pair-bond sessions. The birds shake their heads from side to side, rear backRead more

Merganser Numbers Increase

On November 1st, I reported that a male Hooded Merganser arrived in our Wetlands. That bird was by itself until Saturday, two days later, when a female showed up. On Tuesday (11/6) when I made my rounds through Explore the Wild I saw five birds. There are now eight. According to most range maps, Hooded Mergansers are permanent residents in our area. Perhaps they are, but I don’t see them here after mid-April, and that’s usually a non-breeding individual thatRead more