Monday, November 25, 2013


A doe and one of the turkeys enjoy an early morning snack
Hello, Fine feathered friends! This Wednesday is the 4th Annual turkey pardoning ceremony.  The weather forecast is calling for fowl weather, but hopefully that won't fowl things up to badly.  The ceremony will occur rain or shine, but activities may be moved inside depending on what the weather is doing that day.  Come start your Holiday season a little early and visit our fine feathered fowl.  According the website,, here are a number of explanations for the origin of the name of Thanksgiving's favorite dinner guest. Some believe Christopher Columbus thought that the land he discovered was connected to India, and believed the bird he discovered (the turkey) was a type of peacock. He therefore called it 'tuka,' which is 'peacock' in Tamil, an Indian language.
Though the turkey is actually a type of pheasant, one can't blame the explorer for trying.
The Native American name for turkey is 'firkee'; some say this is how turkeys got their name. Simple facts, however, sometimes produce the best answers—when a turkey is scared, it makes a "turk, turk, turk" noise.

If you are willing to brave the elements, come over to the VLM for the annual turkey pardoning ceremony. We hope to see you there.

Come see the turkeys!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Can you spot the raccoon?

This morning, while out on the boardwalk, our female raccoon was taking refuge from the rain showers up in one of the trees in the exhibit. She's checking out her surroundings to see what's going on. Can you spot the 'coon in the tree?

Female raccoon nestles on the tree branch amongst the autumn color

Friday, November 1, 2013

Wood Ducks!

Around the middle of  July, the coastal plains aviary became home to 2 families of wood ducks.  The ducks came to us from a breeding facility down near the North Carolina border. Both families are doing quite well.  In both batches of wood ducks, there are a few young birds that look a bit different from the usual colors you see in the wood duck population.  They are a lighter variation that has a grayish silver appearance. They are very unusual and unique looking birds.

The first indication that the wood ducks were actively brooding a batch of babies was that we noticed the female wood ducks coming and going quite frequently from the nesting boxes that were donated by Wild Birds Unlimited and placed in our coastal plains aviary for the ducks to use should they want to raise some little ones:
Mama duck peeking out of the nesting box. Photo: Karl Rebenstorf
Once we were certain that there were eggs in the nesting box, we kept monitoring each day to see what was in store for our expectant duck parents:

Inside the nesting box, all was nice and cozy. Photo: Karl Rebenstorf
After the ducklings hatched, we kept them in an area behind the scenes for a bit so they could grow a little more before going out on exhibit with all of the other birds on display.
This is the setup for keeping the young ducks and their mother in preparation for going on exhibit when the babies got a bit older
After awhile, once mom and the ducklings were doing well, we returned them to the exhibit to be on display for the visitors to enjoy. As mentioned earlier, these ducklings show a bit of genetic diversity not commonly seen in the wild populations. They are a striking silvery color, and are very noticeable out in the exhibit.   

Genetic diversity can be found in some populations of wood ducks
These young ducks are currently on display in the coastal plains aviary for visitors to see how unusually unique these birds are.