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

Spring Happenings and Aquatic Turtle Update

Top Photo: Upper surface of American snout. Things happen very quickly in spring, flowers bloom and fade, plants shoot out new leaves, insects emerge, birds who’ve been absent half a year, reappear. Here’s some of those things and more of what has occurred over the past week. Daffodils are early season flowers that last but briefly. Bees emerge with little on their agenda but food and reproduction. It’s time to get a new nest started. Northern, or Dekay’s brown snakes,Read more

Bathe and Graze

Top Photo: Adult robin attempts to coax one of its offspring (left) to bathe in the water below waterfall at Red Wolf Enclosure. There are numerous bird families flying and foraging about our campus. Fledglings need to learn to cope with life before they go out on their own and the adults are doing their best to show them how. Finding food, bird song, and even bathing are all on the list. I came upon a group of American robinsRead more

Out and About

Top Photo: Green heron perches on willow branch near water’s edge. Green herons are a fairly common sight in the wetlands during summer. They’ve nested at the museum more than a few times. I’ve previously mentioned in this blog the benefits for the naturalist who follows the eye of the bird. If you see a bird stare skyward it’s often worth your while to look up and see what the bird’s looking at. It may be a predator worthy ofRead more

Turtles in Winter

While most species of aquatic turtles are inactive, tucked-away on the bottom of a pond in the leaf litter and mud, our resident sliders tend to become active throughout the colder months. All it takes is a few bright sunny days. Among the local turtles, yellow-bellied and red-eared sliders, eastern painted turtle, common musk turtle, and common snapping turtle, it’s the sliders that are most often seen out basking in late fall and winter. The water is shallow in ourRead more

Herps (reptiles and amphibians)

The seventies and eighties are behind us, for now. It’s back to more normal temps, forties and fifties. But, while the atypically high temps lasted, I was able to find some out and about reptiles and amphibians. It’s not unusual to see a brown snake in winter unless the temps are extreme, on the low side. I saw the northern brown snake, or Dekay’s brown snake, pictured here slowly making its way across the path just uphill from the LemurRead more

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

What You May Have Missed

Above, a large snapper basks on a warm rock in the bright early May sunshine. As you stroll along through the outdoor exhibits here at the museum there are many interesting sights for you to enjoy. Turtles are out basking, birds are exploiting the wetland’s lesser wild life, new blooms occur almost daily, and closer to the ground, you may witness an arthropod or two going about their daily routines. But you have to look, keep your eyes open toRead more

Young Is In The Air

As you most surely have noticed it is spring and it seems there’s much work being devoted to procreation. There have been several sitings of juvenile turtles making their way towards water. Some of these youngster have been in the nest for 250, 260, 270 days or more, first as eggs and then as hatchlings to finally emerge from their underground chambers and hightail it for the wetlands. If turtles hatch late in the year they will remain in theRead more

Things to Look for While Strolling the Outdoor Loop at the Museum of Life and Science

Yellow-bellied sliders are frequently seen out basking in the sun in our wetlands. Occasionally, and typically in spring and early summer, a snapping turtle partakes in the catching of rays. There are Colorado potato beetles and there are false potato beetles. Both eat plants in the nightshade (solanaceae) family, a group of plants of which both potato and tomato belong. This family includes many other species of plants including horsenettle or Carolina nettle (Solanum carolinense). We have much Carolina nettleRead more