Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Killdeer

I've been enjoying (along with Dave and Chris Cicimurri from the Geology Museum) and probably many others, the unusually large numbers of killdeer the last week and a half or so on the Garden's meadows. I saw over 14 in a loose flock late last week and we've been remarking on their numbers.

As warmer 'normal' winter weather moved in, they're gone as of Monday. Coincidence? Hard to know. Dave and I have been searching various sources to see if their behavior (appearing here in larger numbers in the first place) might be understandable from a natural history point of view.

Killdeer are common year-round residents in South Carolina, but they're such recognizable birds we think that we'd have noticed them in previous years in these numbers.

But maybe some of you have seen them in open areas near campus or elsewhere? Let us know.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A pair of Edgeworthia plants

Two paperbush plants (Edgeworthia chrysantha) illuminate the entrance to the Hayden Conference Center. Not even yet in flower, their flower buds and architecture are striking.

Happily, pruning has suited them; currently, they're a perfect pair on either side of the door.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Cold January Day

What might be in the Garden to photograph on a cold January day after many hard freezes? There are a number of things, but one just has to look a bit harder. Waiting for you when you enter the Garden might be one of the resident red-shouldered hawks sitting in a tree by the pond. Then walk nearby to see some red berries of the "Winter-red Holly" (Ilex verticillata). From there go to the Children's Garden and be greeted by a "staff" member, Weezy, who is soaking up some winter sun. One group of trees that stand out in the forest at this time of year are the "American Beech" (Fagus grandifolia) since their light brown winter leaves are not lost until the new green ones appear in the spring. Just look and you can find some interesting things in the winter Garden!

Monday, January 11, 2010


Flocks of killdeer are enjoying the Garden's meadows. I've seen them over the past several days, hopping, calling, and flying around.

Killdeer are plovers, but not shorebirds. They frequent lawns, meadows, and fields, and their distinctive behavior makes them unmistakable.

Look for an attractive bird with two brown neck bands and a white breast. And listen for their calls.