Ensuring the safety of visitors and watching out for the art are top priorities for officers in the Museum Park. There’s also the opportunity to observe what the wildlife is up to—a particular joy for me. Here are some of my recent encounters.
When you are a green heron, it’s easy to perch on a tiny limb and look intense! This beautiful wader made a surprise visit to the Pond on a recent Thursday. I’m not sure if he was foraging along the bank or if this was just a fly-by, but it was a treat to observe him.
Sometimes a green heron uses bait to catch its food. Don’t believe me? Here’s the video.
This bright green praying (Chinese) mantis was minding its own business when I literally bumped into it in a patch of weeds. They are a bit ornery and give you “the look” if you try to pick them up.
These insects are fascinating! Did you know that they can catch small birds? According to a 2017 publication by Martin Nyffeler in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, praying mantises catch and eat small birds on every continent except Antarctica. Nyffeler found no less than 147 documented instances of bird capture by praying mantises; wow!
Great horned owl's talons
On July 4 I was able to take a decent picture of a great horned owl. I had observed this exquisite bird in the same area a few weeks before but was unable to zoom in far enough. A great horned owl will eat just about anything that moves, including skunks, and even other birds such as red-shouldered hawks. How do they do that? Well, just look at those talons! Yikes, nothing escapes those claws!
If you’ve visited the Park lately, you may have noticed more turtles moving out of ponds and nearby woody areas. Turtle nesting season is in full swing, and eggs should be hatching soon. Homeschool Pop has an informative video for kids about turtles.
In the recent scorching weather, I saw this belted kingfisher panting to stay cool. Can you see his little tongue?
If you pay close attention, you can spot the difference between a male and female kingfisher. The female will have some rust color on her chest, whereas the male only has blue. You will most likely hear a belted kingfisher before you see it. Their rattling shriek will catch your attention. I love to watch them divebomb into the Pond and come up with a nice, juicy crawfish, which they then clobber against a limb and gulp down.
Here’s a great short video of some kingfishers.
Bonus: Birdbath to Make at Home
If you can’t visit the Museum Park, you can still observe the birds and wildlife near your home. You can help wild birds stay cool in the summer by placing a shallow dish of water or birdbath in your yard; pretty soon you’ll have some very appreciative birds. This video shows that with a few supplies from the local dollar store, you can make a pretty birdbath. I think I’m going to try it myself!