Hazel Alder, which grows on the north side of the Wetlands, typically blooms in February. It looks as though it’ll be right on time. There are both male catkins and female flowers (small reddish spikes at top of photo) forming on the plants.
The fertilized flowers will become tiny “cones” which look very much like miniature pine cones.
Over at Bird Viewing (the feeders) I saw a couple of Red-breasted Nuthatches after not seeing them for several weeks. And, a Pine Siskin showed up on Thursday (1/10).
Hopefully, more winter finches will grace us with their presence as well. I heard through the grapevine (carolinabirds ListServ) that Red Crossbills had been seen in Northern Durham last week, by Tom Krakauer!
I may have spoken too soon about our Red-shouldered Hawks not spending as much time hunting in and around our Wetland. The one in the photo below spent well over an hour in the swamp across from the Red Wolf Overlook.
There is a feather hanging from the hawk’s bill. Had the hawk recently been preening, or is that the remains of something that the bird ate?
Meahwhile, across from the hawk and inside the Red Wolf Enclosure our female seemed to have found something interesting.
She dug for several minutes but never unearthed anything that I could see. Perhaps it was the remains of some kill she made inside the enclosure long ago.
You may notice that her belly has been shaved. She recently had an exam, an ultrasound, to determine her fitness for the upcoming breeding season which begins this month! She apparently checked out OK. Only time, and our male’s fertility, will tell what happens next.