It’s All About Procreation

Top Photo: Fledgling eastern phoebes huddle together as they await feeding from parent. Spring keeps chugging along, and with it the lives of many different creatures. Below are photos of some of our local residents rolling with the flow. A nestling blue-gray gnatcatcher waits for one of its parents to deliver protein. The lichen covered nest is in a maple tree on an island in our parking lot. It was spotted by sharp-eyed Ranger Dakota. Unlike gnatcatchers, brown-headed nuthatches nestRead more

Winter Flycatcher

Top Photo: Eastern phoebe sits atop finial on umbrella at Main Wetlands Overlook. It’s a common sight on the museum outdoor loop, a phoebe perched atop a twig, branch, light post, railing, or just about any other object which affords a clear view of passing airborne insects. Eastern phoebes eat insects and catch the vast majority of them on the wing. They’ve been observed eating fruit when available, like mulberries in spring and wax myrtle, holly, and even poison ivyRead more

November

Top Photo: Panaeolus sp. mushroom. These attractive mushrooms (Panaeolus sp.) sprouted under a fern at the entrance to the Dinosaur Trail. Boxelder, also known as ashleaf maple is a common tree here at the museum, but none reach their maximum height of about 60 feet. The name ashleaf maple comes from the tree’s compound leaves resemblance to ash leaves. It usually has five leaflets per leaf but may also have as little as three leaflets, which is the reason forRead more

Early Spring

Neotropical migrants won’t begin arriving on the scene for a month or more. However, our local year-round resident birds have the jump on those mainly insectivorous migrants. Some of the locals like cardinals, towhees, brown thrashers, Carolina wrens and others are in full song and some are building or investigating nest sites. American robin numbers are increasing, and keep an eye out for cedar waxwings on any shrubs or trees that still have fruit, like holly or red cedar. NorthernRead more

A Butterfly, a Flycatcher, and an Intro to Trig

By all accounts this has been a slow year for Monarchs. I’ve seen five flying over the Museum’s airspace this fall on their way south to Mexico. The numbers of Monarchs seen here are never great, but five is particularly disapointing. It may be wishful thinking to say that the weather has not been conducive to a good Monarch flight here in the Piedmont. I hope that’s all it is. While photogrpahing the Monarch above, two phoebes were calling fromRead more

We have much to do before winter

With each passing cold front the temperatures are a little cooler, the humidity a little dryer, and winter a little closer. There’s plenty going on outside during this transitional time of year when we make the shift from summer to winter. It’s time to prepare for what’s to come and the birds, mammals, and insects are doing just that. As the cicadas wind down so too the activities of the Cicada Killer. Hopefully their burrows are stocked with cicadas forRead more

Phoebes, Coming and Going

Sometime in March I noticed an Eastern Phoebe frequenting the vending area in Explore the Wild. Knowing that phoebes readily nest on ledges (rock ledges, wood ledges, block ledges, any kind of ledges) I hoped for a nest within easy viewing distance. There are plenty of ledges on the building that houses the restrooms and vending area. A nest there would be very convenient for anyone wanting to spy on a bird’s nest. Phoebes have nested below the boardwalk each year since I’veRead more

Bluebird Update 4.23.13

Tuesdays are bluebird days. As I do every Tuesday during this time of year, I checked the nest boxes on our Bluebird Trail here at the Museum and the news is good. All seems well on the trail this week, no predation, new eggs laid and some eggs hatching. The Cow Pasture nest has shown no change, it still has five unmolested eggs. They should hatch any day now. The Chickadees in the nest next to the Bungee are now parents,Read 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

Goings on

I like Phoebes. Phoebes are interesting birds. They almost constantly flick their tails forward and backward. They are flycatchers. They capture most of their food on the wing, both the bird and their prey items, that is to say they catch flying insects inflight. They are cold tolerant, meaning they can winter farther north than other flycatchers. Not all, but some of the birds that nest in our area remain here the entire winter. They manage to find food during someRead more