Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You Otter be in Pictures!

This edition of "Off the Beaten Path," is very much ON the beaten path for a change!  It features one of our Outdoor Trail's most beloved and popular animals, the river otters.  We have two otters:  our female was acquired as an adult in 2003, our male was born in 2005.

One of the advantages of working here is that I can visit the animals often and observe their behavior.  (Sometimes visitors are perplexed when they find the otters curled up taking a bit of a "siesta," especially during the hot summer months....Otters are supposed to be "playful," right?  Well, yes, they are--just not 24/7!)

Anyway, otters are tremendously well-adapted for an aquatic life style.  With their streamlined body, webbed feet and long rudder-like tail, otters are virtual acrobats when swimming. 

Their dense oily fur looks plush when dry:

Compared to what they look like fresh out from a dunk in their pond:

Otters are carnivores that eat mainly fish, but will also eat crayfish, crabs, amphibians, turtles, and even insects.  Check out his teeth--definitely "carnivore" teeth (in case you're curious, I snapped this photo as he was yawning!): 

They do spend some time grooming their fur, which is always fun to watch:

Well, its nap time for the otters... So, that's all for now!  More off the beaten path in two weeks.  Oh, by the way, my friend Jody Ullmann found a great Otter Spotter website that has lots of great info about all kinds of otters--enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Birds of a Feather Part 2

Hope you had fun guessing what birds the feathers belong to!  Let's see if you were right....The first photo was of a turkey's tail.  Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted to make this critter our national bird?

Speaking of our national bird, it is of course the bald eagle, which was the second mystery photo--the big clue was the white tail feathers:

However, bald eagles generally don't get their white head and tail feathers until they are about 4 or 5 years old.  Here's what our eagle looked like when he was younger:

The third mystery photo showed off the brilliant plumage of a male wood duck.  These kinds of ducks will nest in tree cavities in swamps and along wooded ponds:

The fourth photo is of a regal looking great blue heron.  This photo shows a wild heron flying off the roof of our Outdoor Aviary.  Hmmm...perhaps it's attracted to our own great blue heron that we have on exhibit?  In any case, this wild heron can frequently be seen wading along the shallow banks of the pond on our Museum grounds.:

The last one was a bit difficult to figure out, so I'll give you another has large eyes to help it hunt at night:

Yes, it's a barred owl!  This barred owl is one of our educational program animals, and in this photo, the owl is held by educator Claire McLeod.:

Hope you enjoyed the guessing game!  I'll post my next blog in two weeks....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Birds of a Feather Part 1

Well, it seems everyone liked the "Guess Who?" blog I did on September 21st (see my archive)--so I thought I'd do an avian version this time.  Like before, the pictures below show only parts of each animal.  The first is an easy one:

The second one is fairly easy, too:

The next one is a bit tricky:

Can you guess what bird these feathers belong to?:

Finally, this is probably the most difficult one:

Good luck!  Hope you have fun with before, answers posted in two weeks!