Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Birds of a Feather 3

We have lots of birds here at the Museum....see if you can guess who these birds are by looking at their feathers:
The first one easy, right?  Owls have 14 neck vertebrae, allowing their neck to be very flexible and an owl can turn its head about 270 degrees (not quite a full circle.)  And the feathers on top of his head?  Just feathers, not his ears (which are located on the sides of his head under the feathers.)  Here's what this great horned owl looks like when he turns around
The second photo is the back of a black-crowned night heron in our Outdoor Aviary:
The third photo shows the wing detail of a green-winged teal--we have them in our Mountain Cove Habitarium:
The fourth photo shows the beautifully speckled feather pattern of a brown thrasher, a songbird we have in our Cypress Swamp Habitarium:
The last photo showed the head crest of a hooded merganser--this one a female, also in our Cypress Swamp Habitarium:
We also have several mergansers in our Outdoor Aviary--here's a male so you can see the difference in the coloration.  In this photo, the feathers on his head are relaxed down:
Hope you enjoyed this edition of "Off the Beaten Path"--more in two weeks!  Our new Virginia Living Museum website is up and running, however our blogs are still slowly but surely migrating over to the new website.  For now, I'll continue to post here until the transition is complete.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Flowers in Bloom 1

Thanks to our wonderful Horticulture Dept., there's usually something in bloom here at the Museum from early spring through late fall.  During the month of April I found lots of blooms on the Museum grounds.  First, some white dogwood blossoms (our Virginia state flower, by the way):
This "umbrella" of tiny white blossoms are from Viburnum sp., a type of shrub--which also goes by the common names of nannyberry, arrow-wood, or possum-haw:
Another lovely flowering shrub is choke berry (which has bright red berries in the fall):
Sedum is a type of succulent plant.  We have several varieties that grow on the Museum grounds--this particular one has delicate white flowers:
You might walk right past this flower and not really notice it.  It's the flower of the pawpaw tree, and it hangs downward like a bell.  I took the photo from underneath so you could see it better.  Many thanks to my friend and fellow educator, Bo Baker, for helping me to identify this flower!:
Another deep reddish flower--this one a Trillium:
Another flower that hangs bell-like is wild columbine.  I took a side-view photo and also one from underneath so you could see the beautiful orange-yellow center:
These azaleas are a spot of bright pink color:
And finally, the blue star, with its lovely soft blue color:
Hope you are enjoying spring!  More off the beaten path in two weeks.  We are getting closer and closer to getting our new VLM website up and running, so I'll make the shift to writing this blog directly from that website very soon.