Wake Audubon Blog

Spring Mountain Birding Fieldtrip

i Jun 29th 2 Comments by

Authored by John Gerwin

The now-annual spring (mid-May) mountain birding trip, co-sponsored by Wake Audubon and the Museum of Natural Sciences, was another fantastic weekend of bird-watching.  We were not-so-pleasantly surprised to wake up on Saturday morning to a temperature of 37 degrees!  And again it was mid-May. But that is how it is in the “northern” mountains of NC.

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Bobolink in flight. Photo by Dan and Sue Harvey

We left Friday morning, and our first birding stop was at a familiar hayfield along the Blue Ridge Parkway where a dozen or more Bobolinks have been breeding for nearly a decade.  This year the winds were high which made for some great views of males doing their aerial courtship display flights, and chases of both males and females. Those same winds made it impossible to hear any sparrows that might have been singing – we suspect no self-respecting sparrow was even trying.  We next headed to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express (which gives our group a super low rate for this time of year).

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Dark-eyed Junco female with nest material. Photo by Dan and Sue Harvey

On Saturday morning, the 23 of us headed for Trout Lake trails at Moses Cone Memorial Park. Here we found various warblers, such as Black-throated Blue, Canada, Hooded, Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian.  We watched a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers at their nest, feeding young, and an adorable Junco with nest material in its beak that looked like Witch’s Broom material – wispy, reddish-brown strands of something, nearly as long as the bird.

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Baltimore Oriole. Photo by Dan and Sue Harvey

We headed to the Valle Crucis Community Park for lunch and after-lunch birding. This site is wonderful for finding some cool birds that are then easy to view, such as Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Cedar Waxwing, Least and Willow Flycatchers, Yellow Warbler, and this year, a Yellow-throated Vireo at near eye level and a mere 30’ away when found and first watched.

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Scarlet Tanager. Photo by Dan and Sue Harvey

On Sunday we spend the morning hours at a pullover just west of Elk Knob State Natural Area. Here we found Golden-winged Warbler and more Chestnut-sided Warblers, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager, and Common Raven. We then went into the Park to rustle up a few more species. After this we headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Jeffress Park overlook. Here we found, as before, great views of Black-throated Green Warbler.  We heard Cerulean and Blackburnian but did not see either this time (we have in the past, at this spot). All in all, in spite of the low 30’s on Saturday, we had another great time enjoying the birds of this region, along with some of the spring flowers, and notoriously bad puns of from a couple of the leaders.

2014 Wildathon

i Jun 20th No Comments by

Authored by Jeff  Beane

Wake Audubon’s Wildathon took place on May 5-6. This was the first year that we conducted our survey on a weekday. Our “24-Hour Dream Team” members were Jeff Beane, Ed Corey, Bob Davis, John Finnegan, Stephanie Horton. We counted all vertebrates.

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Mon., 8:05 a.m. For the 8th consecutive year, we kicked off our event with Eastern Glass Lizards (three of them this time) at Carolina Beach.

 

 

We officially began our count at 8:05 a.m. on 5 May and ended at 8:05 a.m. on 6 May. Beane, Corey, Davis, and Horton participated for the entire 24 hours; Finnegan took a sleep break between ca. 12:30 and 5:30 a.m. Our search included portions of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, New Hanover, Pender, Richmond, Robeson, and Scotland counties, NC. We began at 1208 Canal Drive (ca. 1.0 airmi. NNE Carolina Beach) in New Hanover County and ended on the Sandhills Game Lands WNW of Hoffman in Richmond County.The weather was mostly sunny and breezy, with temperatures slightly lower than average, especially at night; no precipitation; high temperatures in the 80sºF and lows in the 50sºF.

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Mon., 1:58 p.m. Corey and Horton scan for more species from the Ft. Fisher-Southport ferry.

Techniques:  Most species were observed via visual and auditory searches, while walking and driving. Binoculars and a spotting scope were used to assist in viewing many species. Several species were taken in dipnets, seines, minnow traps, and drift fences; and several were found by turning logs, boards, sheet metal, leaf litter, or other surface cover. One bat species was confirmed via an Anabat detector. Several species were observed only as road-kills or otherwise dead specimens; these are noted by an asterisk (*).

Species Observed

Raja eglanteria  Clearnose Skate

Anguilla rostrata  American Eel

Brevoortia tyrannus  Atlantic Menhaden *

Umbra pygmaea  Eastern Mudminnow

Esox americanus  Redfin Pickerel

Esox niger  Chain Pickerel

Clinostomus funduloides  Rosyside Dace

Hybopsis hypsinotus  Highback Chub

Nocomis leptocephalus  Bluehead Chub

Notropis altipinnis  Highfin Shiner

Notropis chiliticus  Redlip Shiner

Notropis maculatus  Taillight Shiner

Notropis petersoni  Coastal Shiner

Minytrema melanops  Spotted Sucker

Noturus insignis  Margined Madtom

Pylodictis olivaris  Flathead Catfish *

Chologaster cornuta  Swampfish

Aphredoderus sayanus  Pirate Perch

Fundulus chrysotus  Golden Topminnow

Fundulus heteroclitus  Mummichog

Fundulus lineolatus  Lined Topminnow

Fundulus luciae  Spotfin Killifish

Fundulus waccamensis  Waccamaw Killifish

Lucania parva  Rainwater Killifish

Gambusia holbrooki  Eastern Mosquitofish

Heterandria formosa  Least Killifish

Menidia menidia  Atlantic Silverside

Chaenobryttus gulosus  Warmouth

Enneacanthus chaetodon  Black-banded Sunfish

Enneacanthus gloriosus  Blue-spotted Sunfish

Lepomis auritus  Redbreast Sunfish

Lepomis gibbosus  Pumpkinseed

Lepomis macrochirus  Bluegill

Lepomis marginatus  Dollar Sunfish

Lepomis microlophus  Redear Sunfish

Micropterus salmoides  Largemouth Bass

Pomoxis nigromaculatus  Black Crappie

Elassoma boehlkei  Carolina Pygmy Sunfish

Elassoma evergladei  Everglades Pygmy Sunfish

Elassoma zonatum  Banded Pygmy Sunfish

Etheostoma [flabellare] brevispinum  Carolina Fantail Darter

Etheostoma olmstedi  Tessellated Darter

Centropristis striata  Black Sea Bass

Morone americanus  White Perch *

Archosargus probatocephalus  Sheepshead *

Lagodon rhomboides  Pinfish

Leiostomus xanthurus  Spot

Micropogonias undulatus  Atlantic Croaker

Mugil curema  White Mullet

Necturus punctatus  Dwarf Waterdog

Ambystoma tigrinum  Eastern Tiger Salamander

Notophthalmus viridescens dorsalis  Broken-striped Newt

Desmognathus fuscus  Northern Dusky Salamander

Eurycea n. sp.  “Sandhills Eurycea”

Eurycea cirrigera  Southern Two-lined Salamander

Plethodon chlorobryonis  Atlantic Coast Slimy Salamander

Scaphiopus holbrookii  Eastern Spadefoot

Bufo [= Anaxyrus] terrestris  Southern Toad

Acris gryllus  Southern Cricket Frog

Hyla andersonii  Pine Barrens Treefrog

Hyla chrysoscelis  Cope’s Gray Treefrog

Hyla cinerea  Green Treefrog

Hyla femoralis  Pine Woods Treefrog

Hyla gratiosa  Barking Treefrog

Hyla squirella  Squirrel Treefrog

Pseudacris crucifer  Spring Peeper

Gastrophryne carolinensis  Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad

Rana catesbeiana  [Lithobates catesbeianus]  American Bullfrog

Rana [= Lithobates] clamitans  Green Frog

Rana [= Lithobates] palustris  Pickerel Frog

Rana sphenocephala [= Lithobates sphenocephalus]  Southern Leopard Frog

Rana [= Lithobates] virgatipes  Carpenter Frog

Alligator mississippiensis  American Alligator

Kinosternon subrubrum  Eastern Mud Turtle

Sternotherus odoratus  Eastern Musk Turtle

Pseudemys concinna [floridana]  River Cooter (“Florida Cooter” types)

Terrapene carolina  Eastern Box Turtle

Trachemys scripta  Yellow-bellied Slider

Anolis carolinensis  Green Anole

Cnemidophorus sexlineatus [= Aspidoscelis sexlineata]  Six-lined Racerunner

Eumeces [= Plestiodon] fasciatus  Five-lined Skink

Eumeces [= Plestiodon] inexpectatus  Southeastern Five-lined Skink

Eumeces [= Plestiodon] laticeps  Broadhead Skink

Scincella lateralis  Ground Skink

Ophisaurus ventralis  Eastern Glass Lizard

Coluber constrictor  Black Racer

Elaphe guttata [= Pantherophis guttatus, etc.]  Corn Snake

Elaphe obsoleta [= Pantherophis obsoletus, etc.]  Rat Snake

Farancia abacura  Mud Snake *

Nerodia fasciata  Banded Water Snake

Nerodia taxispilota  Brown Water Snake

Opheodrys aestivus  Rough Green Snake *

Pituophis melanoleucus  Northern Pine Snake *

Storeria dekayi  Brown Snake *

Storeria occipitomaculata  Red-bellied Snake

Tantilla coronata  Southeastern Crowned Snake

Agkistrodon contortrix  Copperhead *

Agkistrodon piscivorus  Cottonmouth *

Aix sponsa  Wood Duck

Anas platyrhynchos  Mallard

Branta canadensis  Canada Goose

Colinus virginianus  Northern Bobwhite

Meleagris gallopavo  Wild Turkey

Phalacrocorax auritus  Double-crested Cormorant

Anhinga anhinga  Anhinga

Pelecanus occidentalis  Brown Pelican

Ardea alba  Great Egret

Ardea herodias  Great Blue Heron

Bubulcus ibis  Cattle Egret

Butorides virescens  Green Heron

Egretta caerulea  Little Blue Heron

Egretta thula  Snowy Egret

Egretta tricolor  Tricolored Heron

Eudocimus albus  White Ibis

Cathartes aura  Turkey Vulture

Coragyps atratus  Black Vulture

Pandion haliaetus  Osprey

Buteo lineatus  Red-shouldered Hawk

Haliaeetus leucocephalus  Bald Eagle

Fulica americana  American Coot

Rallus longirostris  Clapper Rail

Charadrius semipalmatus  Semipalmated Plover

Charadrius vociferus  Killdeer

Charadrius wilsonia  Wilson’s Plover

Pluvialis squatarola  Black-bellied Plover

Haematopus palliatus  American Oystercatcher

Arenaria interpres  Ruddy Turnstone

Actitis macularia  Spotted Sandpiper

Calidris alba  Sanderling

Calidris alpina  Dunlin

Calidris minutilla  Least Sandpiper

Calidris pusilla  Semipalmated Sandpiper

Limnodromus griseus  Short-billed Dowitcher

Limosa fedoa  Marbled Godwit

Numenius phaeopus  Whimbrel

Tringa melanoleuca  Greater Yellowlegs

Tringa semipalmata  Willet

Larus argentatus  Herring Gull

Larus delawarensis  Ring-billed Gull

Larus marinus  Great Black-backed Gull

Leucophaeus [= Larus] atricilla  Laughing Gull

Gelochelidon [= Sterna] nilotica  Gull-billed Tern

Rhynchops niger  Black Skimmer

Sterna forsteri  Forster’s Tern

Sterna hirundo  Common Tern

Sternula antillarum  Least Tern

Thalasseus maximus [= Sterna maxima]  Royal Tern

Thalasseus [= Sterna] sandvicensis  Sandwich Tern

Columba livia  Rock Pigeon

Streptopelia decaocto  Eurasian Collared-Dove

Zenaida macroura  Mourning Dove

Coccyzus americanus  Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Strix varia  Barred Owl

Caprimulgus carolinensis  Chuck-Will’s-Widow

Caprimulgus vociferus  Whip-Poor-Will

Chordeiles minor  Common Nighthawk

Chaetura pelagica  Chimney Swift

Archilochus colubris  Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Megaceryle alcyon  Belted Kingfisher

Colaptes auratus  Northern Flicker

Dryocopus pileatus  Pileated Woodpecker

Melanerpes carolinus  Red-bellied Woodpecker

Melanerpes erythrocephalus  Red-headed Woodpecker

Picoides borealis  Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Picoides pubescens  Downy Woodpecker

Picoides villosus  Hairy Woodpecker

Contopus virens  Eastern Wood-Pewee

Empidonax virescens  Acadian Flycatcher

Myiarchus crinitus  Great Crested Flycatcher

Sayornis phoebe  Eastern Phoebe

Tyrannus tyrannus  Eastern Kingbird

Lanius ludovicianus  Loggerhead Shrike

Vireo flavifrons  Yellow-throated Vireo

Vireo griseus  White-eyed Vireo

Vireo olivaceus  Red-eyed Vireo

Corvus brachyrhynchos  American Crow

Corvus ossifragus  Fish Crow

Cyanocitta cristata  Blue Jay

Hirundo rustica  Barn Swallow

Progne subis  Purple Martin

Stelgidopteryx serripennis  Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Baeolophus bicolor  Tufted Titmouse

Poecile carolinensis  Carolina Chickadee

Sitta carolinensis  White-breasted Nuthatch

Sitta pusilla  Brown-headed Nuthatch

Thryothorus ludovicianus  Carolina Wren

Polioptila caerulea  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Catharus ustulatus  Swainson’s Thrush

Hylocichla mustelina  Wood Thrush

Sialia sialis  Eastern Bluebird

Turdus migratorius  American Robin

Dumetella carolinensis  Gray Catbird

Mimus polyglottos  Northern Mockingbird

Toxostoma rufum  Brown Thrasher

Sturnus vulgaris  European Starling

Bombycilla cedrorum  Cedar Waxwing

Geothlypis formosa  Kentucky Warbler

Geothlypis trichas  Common Yellowthroat

Icteria virens  Yellow-breasted Chat

Limnothlypis swainsonii  Swainson’s Warbler

Mniotilta varia  Black-and-White Warbler

Parkesia motacilla  Louisiana Waterthrush

Parkesia noveboracensis  Northern Waterthrush

Protonotaria citrea  Prothonotary Warbler

Seiurus aurocapillus  Ovenbird

Setophaga americana  Northern Parula

Setophaga caerulescens  Black-throated Blue Warbler

Setophaga citrina  Hooded Warbler

Setophaga coronata  Yellow-rumped Warbler

Setophaga discolor  Prairie Warbler

Setophaga dominica  Yellow-throated Warbler

Setophaga magnolia  Magnolia Warbler

Setophaga petechia  Yellow Warbler

Setophaga pinus  Pine Warbler

Setophaga ruticilla  American Redstart

Piranga rubra  Summer Tanager

Aimophila aestivalis  Bachman’s Sparrow

Melospiza georgiana  Swamp Sparrow

Pipilo erythrophthalmus  Eastern Towhee

Spizella passerina  Chipping Sparrow

Spizella pusilla  Field Sparrow

Cardinalis cardinalis  Northern Cardinal

Passerina caerulea  Blue Grosbeak

Passerina ciris  Painted Bunting

Passerina cyanea  Indigo Bunting

Agelaius phoeniceus  Red-winged Blackbird

Icterus spurius  Orchard Oriole

Molothrus ater  Brown-headed Cowbird

Sturnella magna  Eastern Meadowlark

Quiscalus major  Boat-tailed Grackle

Quiscalus quiscula  Common Grackle

Carpodacus mexicanus  House Finch

Passer domesticus  House Sparrow

Didelphis virginiana  Virginia Opossum

Blarina carolinensis  Southern Short-tailed Shrew

Corynorhinus rafinesquii  Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat

Eptesicus fuscus  Big Brown Bat

Lasiurus borealis  Red Bat

Procyon lotor  Common Raccoon

Canis latrans  Coyote

Urocyon cinereoargenteus  Gray Fox

Sciurus carolinensis  Eastern Gray Squirrel

Sciurus niger  Eastern Fox Squirrel

Microtus pinetorum  Pine Vole

Peromyscus leucopus  White-footed Mouse *

Sigmodon hispidus  Hispid Cotton Rat

Sylvilagus floridanus  Eastern Cottontail

Odocoileus virginianus  White-tailed Deer

Totals

Fishes:  49

Amphibians:  23

Reptiles:  26

Birds:  135

Mammals:  15

Total Vertebrate Species:  248

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Mon., 8:11 a.m. Minnow traps yielded Pinfish and several other species. Our hard work on fishes this year paid off.

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Mon., 8:30 a.m. Green Anole makes an early appearance; Davis spotted this displaying male 25 minutes in.

 

 

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Mon, 9:01 a.m. One of North Carolina’s most common snakes, this Black Racer at Carolina Beach was one of five turned up during the event.

 

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Mon., 8:52 a.m. One of North Carolina’s smallest snake species, the tiny Red-bellied Snake is not often encountered during our Wildathons, but this year’s event turned up four. This red phase individual, found under a coverboard at Carolina Beach State Park, was the first snake we encountered.

 

 

 

 

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Mon., 9:07 a.m. Most mammals are secretive and not easily observed. This Eastern Fox Squirrel at Carolina Beach State Park was one of two seen during this year’s event.

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Mon., 9:23 a.m. North Carolina’s largest hylid, the Barking Treefrog is a species we often miss on our Wildathons, but this year we scored this adult, plus another calling, at Carolina Beach State Park.

 

 

 

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Mon., 10:33 a.m. Birds, like this male Boat-tailed Grackle at Carolina Beach Lake, are always our most abundant and readily detectable vertebrate class.

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Mon., 10:00 a.m. For flashy, it’s hard to beat a Painted Bunting. This banded male was one of several visiting the feeders at Carolina Beach State Park.

 

 

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Mon., 12 noon. Gull-billed Terns are not the easiest species to get on Wildathons, but we observed several at Ft. Fisher State Recreational Area in Brunswick Co.

 

 

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Mon., 12:17 p.m. Forster’s, Royal, and Sandwich were among the seven tern species we observed during the event.

 

 

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Mon., 12:26 p.m. This Black-bellied Plover, at Fort Fisher State Recreational Area, was already in breeding plumage.

 

 

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Mon., 1:20 p.m. American Oystercatcher and Whimbrel at Ft. Fisher State Recreational Area. We did fairly well on shorebirds this year.

 

 

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Mon., 5:01 p.m. The Brown Water Snakes at White Marsh “hang thick from the cypress trees like sausages on a smokehouse wall.”

 

 

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Tues., 3:06 a.m. A late-night run up into the Uwharries paid off with several predominately Piedmont species, like this Pickerel Frog, spotted (no pun intended) on a stream bank in Montgomery County.

 

 

 

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Tues., 4:27 a.m. North Carolina’s newly designated State Frog, the beautiful Pine Barrens Treefrog, is uncommon, very locally distributed, and often difficult to find. This male was one of several heard calling in Richmond County in the pre-dawn hours.

 

 

 

Comments:

            We counted only those species that we could positively identify to the agreement of our team. Big “misses” (species that we certainly should have observed, based on where and how we applied our efforts) included Snapping Turtle, Red-tailed Hawk, American Goldfinch, Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin, and a few others. We recorded a few species not found on any of our previous Wildathons.

Our total species count of 248 was the highest of the 24-hour Dream Team’s 15 Wildathons to date (our previous record was 235, in 2013). For the 8th straight year, it was a pleasure to begin the event with Ophisaurus ventralis (we found three) at Carolina Beach in New Hanover County, in the backyard of the former home of the late Ms. Myrtle Curry, mother of team member Bob Davis. The last species recorded was Pseudacris crucifer, of which two tadpoles were dipped in a small pond on Sandhills Game Lands in Richmond County with less than a minute remaining. The cool weather and wind at night, and the lack of any precipitation, almost certainly hurt our chances with some amphibian and reptile species, and “road-cruising”—usually very effective for amphibians and reptiles—was less effective than usual this year. We salvaged five road-killed snakes (two Elaphe guttata, two Farancia abacura, one Storeria dekayi) for the collections of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, and also collected some Notropis maculatus for the Museum. Many observational records for various species were added to the Museum’s files and the NC Natural Heritage Program’s database.

This was the first time in 15 years that we had attempted a Wildathon over weekdays, and we slightly preferred that to the usual weekend event (fewer people encountered, less traffic).

We dedicate this Wildathon to the late Jack Dermid (wildlife photographer extraordinaire, 1923-2014); to the late Renaldo Kuhler (scientific illustrator extraordinaire and possibly the most unusual person I ever met, 1931-2013); to all our sponsors; and to all wild, free things everywhere.

We thank everyone who pledged our team this year, especially in light of the difficult financial times. At this point, our pledged sponsors include Sunny Allen, Ronn Altig, Rudy Arndt, Jeff Beane, Brady Beck & Laura Teeter, Ann Bilobrowka, Art Bogan, Hal Broadfoot, Alan Cameron, Bob Cherry, Amanda Chunco, John Connors, Ed Corey, Bob Davis & Judy Morgan-Davis, Kelly Davis, Angie & Bill DeLozier, Tom Driscoll, John Finnegan & Stephanie Horton, Martha Fisk, Bob Flook, Jim Green, Jeff Hall, Diane Hardy, Andy Harrison, T.J. Hilliard, Linda Jones, Susan Kelemen, Kelley & Yancy King, Jane & Craig Lawrence, Greg Lewbart & Diane Deresienski, Roland Kays, Gerry Luginbuhl, Ellen Lyle, Jeff Marcus, Bob Oberfelder, Zach Orr, Chip Parnell, Jo Ann Parnell, Anne Porter, Linda Rudd, Annie Runyon, Jessie Schillaci, Melody Scott, Kim Smart, Don Stanger, Joanne St. Clair, Dorothy Stowe, Paulette Van de Zande, Peter Warny, Kari Wouk, and almost certainly some others we may have inadvertently left out.  Special thanks to Ed Corey for allowing use of his personal vehicle, to Nate Shepard for assistance with setting minnow traps in the NC Sandhills, and to the staff at Carolina Beach State Park and Ft. Fisher State Recreational Area for providing special access. Jeff Beane and Bob Davis provided lodging. Monies raised will be used to support the usual projects (Audubon’s Coastal Island Sanctuaries, local Wake Audubon projects, Project Bog Turtle, and Project Simus). Your generous support is greatly appreciated! You are the reason we keep doing it every year.

If you have not already done so, please send your pledges to the address below (or give them to any of our team members or to Wake Audubon Treasurer John Gerwin) as soon as possible. Make checks payable to “Wake Audubon” (or “NC Herpetological Society” if you want to donate only to those projects). You can also use the PayPal option on Wake Audubon’s website (under “donate” down on the left side of the home page), but please indicate that your donation is for the Wildathon, and let us know that you’ve paid via that option. Please contact one of us if you have any other questions.

We thoroughly enjoyed the event, and we are already looking forward to participating again next year. Sincere thanks from all of us!

 

 

Native Moles Need Our Help

i Jun 11th No Comments by

Authored by John Connors

The Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) recently held a public hearing to hear comments on whether they should concur with the Pesticide Board’s decision to list two species of moles, the Eastern Mole and Hairy-tailed Mole, as pests.  Several folks from Wake Audubon attended this meeting and urged the WRC not to concur with the Pesticide Board’s decision. These moles are native insectivores that feed on insects and worms, including the grubs of some insect pests like Japanese Beetles. Clearly, they are beneficial, not pests.

Eastern MolePhoto by Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University

Moles are solitary animals and produce only one litter per year with 2-5 young, so their reproductive potential is low. They are not at all like a rodent, with which they are often confused. Widespread use of chemical pesticides on moles could potentially deplete their populations. Moles help keep some insect pest species in check and eat up to 70% of their body weight each day.

Chemical baits for moles in other states use bromethalin, a potent nervous system toxin. Bell Labs, the maker of the mole pesticide Talpirid, which incorporates this toxin into fake worm bait, describes it “being extremely toxic to mammals and birds. Dogs and other predatory and scavenging mammals and birds might be poisoned if they feed upon animals that have eaten this bait.” Secondary poisoning of pets and wildlife including hawks and owls, fox, raccoon, and snakes among others, is a real concern. Additionally, these toxic “gummy worms” are attractive to children and can cause deadly posisoning.

Thanks to the previous rulings by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and its staff, North Carolina already has an enlightened policy for controlling unwanted moles using permits and traps. University extension agents confirm that “the most effective and practical means for controlling problem moles is by trapping.” Traps target the offending animal and are selective…and there is no risk of secondary poisoning.  There already is an option for controlling unwanted moles that is not a commercially-available, risky poison!

Moles are a curious component of North Carolina’s native fauna, and although the mounds above their tunnels might at times be unsightly, these are testimony to the work of controlling insect pests that moles are doing for us. It makes no sense to label these marvelous animals as pests, and the last thing we need is adding another noxious chemical poison into our environment. Please write to the WRC and urge them not concur with the Pesticide Board’s ruling.

Mail comments to:

Gordon Myers, Executive Director

NC Wildlife Resources Commission

1701 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699

 

OR email your comments to:

regulations@ncwildlife.org

kathryn.pipkin@ncwildlife.org

gordan.myers@ncwildlife.org

 

 

Purple Martin Banding Event

i Jun 6th No Comments by

Authored by Gerry Luginbuhl

Scientists with the N. C. Museum of Natural Sciences will be banding Purple Martins at Prairie Ridge on Friday, June 13th from 9:30 to noon. They are inviting interested Wake Audubon members and others to come out to the colony site to watch and help with the banding. This is a great chance to see these birds up close and to observe the banding process, which also includes collecting data on the birds’ weights, wing lengths, and more.

PurpleMartinsatPrairieRidge0001Purple Martin colony at Prairie Ridge

The eastern U.S. population of Purple Martins is almost completely dependent on human-supplied nest houses and has been for over 100 years. The western population will use the nest houses, but also uses natural cavities.  Because of the dependence of the eastern birds, Wake Audubon worked with the Museum of Natural Sciences and the Purple Martin Preservation Alliance to establish new breeding sites for Purple Martins in Wake County, including the Prairie Ridge Ecostation site. Wake Audubon helped to erect the Purple Martin nesting gourds at Prairie Ridge in the summer of 2004, too late for the birds to nest that year. Birds used the site in 2005, didn’t nest there in 2006, but have returned every year since then. This is their ninth season! It will be exciting to see how many of the current nesting birds have been previously banded, and if they are returnees to Prairie Ridge.

Purple Martin 2Male Purple Martin

Purple Martins are voracious eaters of large aerial insects such as dragonflies. They catch their meals on the wing. They put on great displays of flight prowess and sometimes fly so high that it is hard to see them. This time of the year, the adults will be bringing lots of food to the nests for their rapidly growing broods. There will be lots of activity.

Prairie Ridge Ecostation is located at 1671 Gold Star Drive, Raleigh, NC.

Angle-wing butterflies

i Jun 2nd No Comments by

By John Gerwin

“Angle-wings” refers to a group of well-named butterflies with very angular edges to their wings.

Comma_underside_NCBG-oct_copy(1)

Comma underside

I recently learned that there is reference to “Angel Wings” on the Internet, referring to butterflies, apparently these same ones. A typo no doubt.  But this reminds me that there are tropical butterflies with clear wings, often called, sure enough “Clearwing butterflies”.  I just photographed one species in Nicaragua, which I will include for reference.  To me, a butterfly with clear wings seems more like an angel. But, back to our geometrically-enhanced leps………….

The two common species of angle-wings around our area are the Comma, and Question Mark.  They’re quite similar to each other. Not in a punctuation-syntax way, but rather, morphologically. These are black and orange butterflies, with cryptic, darkly colored patterns underneath that blend in well with the bark of a tree (but not our orange house, as seen below).  It is the underside that best determines the correct syntax, er, species – a shiny crescent on a dark background with or without the diacritical point.  These species exhibit some variation in the amount of black on the upperside of the wings.  They are pugnacious little devils as well, “attacking” all manner of fauna that may walk or fly by too close (and they determine what is “too close”).  Comma and Question Mark larvae feed on nettles and elms; and the Question Mark will also feed on Hackberry.  Both butterfly species are regular in our area, but I see more Question Marks (perhaps a reflection of my general outlook on life).  Indeed, the April 2014 picture included below is my first Comma for the yard.  Adults of both species hibernate over the winter, and you can often find one out and about on a warmer/sunny winter day. Hmmmm, I wonder if anyone saw any angle-wings this past winter.  Notable, adults of these two species seldom visit flowers: they prefer to feed at rotting fruit, tree sap, and/or animal droppings (they would make fine….. well, never mind). Here are images of these butterflies.  Also included is a Question Mark caterpillar from the Uwharries – and, as mentioned, a clearwing species from Nicaragua. As far as I know, no one has described a “Semi-colon” or “Exclamation Point” butterfly – yet.

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Comma, dorsal view                                    Comma, underside – note clear “comma”

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Question Mark, dorsal view                        Question Mark, underside

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Question Mark caterpillar photographed in the Uwharrie Mountains

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Clearwing species of butterfly photographed in Nicaraqua

All photos by John Gerwin