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 frequently fishes by herself and is sometimes the only duck on the pond.

Female goldeneye (left) with four female hooded mergansers.

While you’re down in our wetlands looking for the goldeneye, stroll around to the northwest side of the pond. There’s a 6” pvc pipe in the corner of the wetland which drains some of the higher areas of the outdoor exhibit trail. This pipe is attractive to both tadpoles (bullfrog) and the only fish species in the pond, mosquitofish. The concentration of prey items is a favorite fishing spot for both mergansers and an immature great blue heron.

Immature great blue heron pauses between strikes at mosquitofish in wetlands.

The heron is very tolerant of human passersby. If you don’t make a lot of noise or sudden movements you can stand quite close and watch the lanky ardea (heron) catch the tiny gambusia (mosquitofish) and gulp them down.

Keep an eye out for our resident belted kingfisher too. You’ll probably hear her loud rattle call long before you see her. Kingfishers are not shy about making their presence known, though they usually don’t allow a close approach.

Female belted kingfisher.

Happy hunting!

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