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Features (Creature Feature)

Bonnie Ott tells us who’s who

      When you hear a sparrow, do you envision only those birds under your bistro table? Bonnie Ott is here to expand your view to the many native sparrow species in our area. An expert naturalist, photographer and lifelong Howard County resident, she is more familiar with little brown birds than just about anyone.
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Courtship is in the air for bald eagles

      Winter is the time that American bald eagles in Maryland start courting and making nests to raise a new family. The courtship period can be very dramatic. I have witnessed the drama only twice.
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Love is in the water

       It’s not just people who engage in an elaborate courtship with gifts of roses and chocolates, explains scientist Dr. J. Sook Chung. Maryland’s blue crabs also have their tricks in choosing a mate.
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They try to avoid us, but their riverbank-busting helps save marshes

      Many times, I have walked along a riverbank and have been startled by both a large animal splashing at my feet and a collapsing shore edge. Muskrats are marsh-dwelling rodents that resemble large, thin gerbils and weigh up to four pounds. When they swim, their long tails swing back and forth in the water like a snake’s....

Sugar Face Dachshunds Sherman and Annie frolic on Animal Planet’s Dog Bowl 

     Two local Sugar Face dachshunds, Sherman and Annie, may out-cute Puppy Bowl rompers as they show their skills on the football field at the Second Annual Dog Bowl on Animal Planet.

         Aged 14 and 12, the doxies represent Sugar Faces Senior Dog Rescue of Southern Maryland.

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Birds of prey falling victim to poisoned rodents

     I have lived in the same neighborhood and driven to work south from Annapolis on Route 2 just shy of 30 years. As a lifelong watcher of birds of prey, I have observed over the years where certain birds maintain territories and nesting sites. In 1995, my neighborhood was home to two pairs of red-shouldered hawks, one pair of red-tailed hawks and a pair of Coopers hawks....

Dark-eyed juncos make their sudden appearance

     In Florida, “There’s a snowbird,” usually identifies an older person who spends only winters in the south.
     Around here, snow birds are actually little birds, called juncos, that seem to suddenly show up when it snows. 
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Not all white animals qualify 

      A white deer is often sighted near Tracys Landing. A white-winged house sparrow lives around Ego Alley in Annapolis.
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Get out and take a walk 

      Researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria compared the emotional wellbeing of walking outside in a natural setting to the same amount of exertion on an indoor treadmill.  Each group took emotional assessment tests before and after the exercise. Both research groups felt better. But, as you probably guessed, people that walked outdoors felt calmer compared to the indoor group and more relaxed for hours after....

Your unseen neighbor

       The DeKay’s brown snake is a very common but rarely seen tiny snake. Active in vacant lots and parks in the middle of cities, the reptile has been able to adapt to urban life. They live under logs, leaf litter and rocks, eating slugs and earthworms. The brown snake will get to be about a foot long, but its head is only about the size of a wooden match....