Cicadas and Other Things Around the Campus

Top Photo: Magicada tredecim, one of two species of periodical cicadas emerging this spring in the Central Piedmont of North Carolina. You’ve most likely heard about the emergence of two broods of cicadas this spring, Brood XIII and Brood XIX of seventeen year and thirteen year periodical cicadas, respectively. Here in Durham and surrounding counties there is no overlap of the two broods but there are two species emerging at the same time from Brood XIX. Magicada tredecim and MagicadaRead more

Nest Box Update 5.7.24

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We now have four newly fledged chickadees getting lessons in survival in the woods and airspace of the museum. There are seven eastern bluebird eggs being incubated. — The Cow Pasture nest is all bluebird. The nest looks clean and although the two eggs in the nest are a bit mismatched they’re being incubated by a female eastern bluebird. She hopped off the nest as we arrived. The more round of the two eggs inRead more

Nest Box Update 4.23.24

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. We have one empty nest box, one with a nest sans eggs (chickadees), two with 1 egg each (chickadee and bluebird) and a total of eleven nestlings (4 chickadees and 7 bluebirds. — After having been raided by a house wren and emptied of its five eggs, the bluebird pair has apparently rallied and started a new nest. The Cow Pasture nest box has come back to life and so far holds one bluebird egg.Read more

Spring Appearances

Top Photo: Fatsia japonica or Japanese Fatsia, fruit. Not native but planted on the Dinosaur Trail to enhance the sense of a long ago tropical realm, fatsia is in fruit, but going fast. The plant’s name is derived from the fact that fatsia, in an old Japanese language, means eight, presumably referring to the number of lobes on the plant’s large palmate leaves. This, even though the leaves never have an even number of lobes, or points. I’ve consistently countedRead more

Immature Plumage

Top Photo: Adult male hooded merganser. The next time you’re down in our wetlands, scrutinize the female mergansers. One of them may be a male. Adult male hooded mergansers (photo above) are easy to pick out in a crowd. Their chestnut sides, black back, black and white breast, black and white crested head, and amber eye stand out, for sure. Females are a bit more cryptically plumaged. They’re the ones who will be incubating the eggs inside a tree-cavity nestRead more

October Color

Top Photo: Ashleaf maple, or boxelder. On a walk around the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind Loop I photographed some of the fall color during the last week of October. Here’s some of those images.Read more

A Disturbance in the Wetlands

Top Photo: Ripples in the water. Near the end of the day, two museum visitors coming up from the wetlands in Explore the Wild stopped me to ask a question, “Are there otters in the wetlands?” Apparently, they’d seen something that “looked very much like an otter.” I thought perhaps they’d seen a mink. I’ve seen mink fairly often down in the wetlands. But when our guests mentioned there were two of them, a picture of frolicking otters flashed acrossRead more

Northern Water Snake vs Copperhead (rerun)

Top Photo: Copperhead Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten several emails with attached photos requesting the identification of the snake in the pictures (copperhead). With that in mind, and the fact that fall is upon us, and copperheads will be moving about more, I offer a link to a previous post on distinguishing copperhead from northern water snake, both locally common on the North Carolina Piedmont. The following first appeared in May of 2013 Click here > Northern WaterRead more

Nest Box Update 6.7.22

Top Photo: Eastern bluebird eggs. Two active nests include nine nestlings, six newly hatched bluebirds and what appears to be three house wrens. The Cow Pasture bluebird eggs have hatched. The birds’ eyes have yet to open. The parents are steadily supplying their offspring with plenty of protein. I can clearly count six nestlings. The nest box at Explore the Wild remains empty. Into the Mist has attracted no further activity in its nest box. Though I counted six nestlingRead more