view counter

Features (Creature Feature)

Fireflies’ luminescence is 100% efficient

Tiny golden-yellow lights flicker on, off, on, off.
    Watching them brings memories of childhood.
    Back in the days when I’d play outside from summer sun-up to after sundown, fireflies kept me company at night.
    Reading kept me company, too.
    P.D. Eastman’s Sam and the Firefly was a favorite.
...

Goodbye cicadas

Back on May 19, I spotted a few cicada shells — golden brown empty casings — scattered in my Huntingtown yard.
    On May 21, I saw my first teneral adult, emerging milky white from a matching cotton-like casing.
    Then, I saw a few adults — black in their new exoskeleton with eerie red, beady eyes — crawling around the patio.
...

The dads take fatherhood seriously, too

Phoebes are inconspicuous in plumage, but you will hear them from wooded areas loud and clear: FEEE-bee-bee-bee! Eastern phoebes, part of the flycatcher family, swoop down from understory branches to catch moths, mosquitoes and other Undesirable Flitting Objects. The generic name for flycatchers, Empidomax, is from the Greek for king of the gnats.
...

With a wingspan up to four inches, Luna moths are one of the largest in North America

Like springtime, Luna moths represent rebirth and renewal.
    I usually see one or two early each spring, hanging around hubby’s bug zapper. Perhaps they’re drawn to the light’s blue glow. The zapper poses no threat to the Luna moths, which are too large to fit through the miniature cage.
...

The Chesapeake’s new reality TV stars

Tom and Audrey have become the Chesapeake’s newest and most popular reality TV stars.
    This charismatic duo, living on the Eastern Shore, is popular with more than locals. The Chesapeake Conservancy’s Osprey Cam has been watched in 48 different countries since its launch at the end of March.
...

In my Calvert country neighborhood, my ­kitties help me meet the neighbors

I grew up climbing trees and playing with Matchbox cars.
    Scary spiders and slithery snakes? I didn’t bat an eye. Daddy’s girl was tough.
    So when the kitty brothers Stripey and Babey bring home squirmy rewards, I’m the one among my family of hubby and two almost-grown boys to take care of it. Two ring-necked snakes have made it inside with kitties’ help.
...

It’s worth the work to attract these birds to your backyard

The goldfinches in my back yard are a real treat this year, borrowing their brilliant yellow from the Maryland flag our Preakness winner will wear.
    I’ve tried luring them with plastic, tube feeders in past years to no avail.
    This year, I hung two white, mesh feeders, or socks, filled with nyjer seed, and watched the bright birds flock to them.
...

Life is wired to birth new life

When I started to clear my herb garden to make room for a couple of sage plants, I almost jumped out of my skin: A clutch of eggs lay in a bird-made bowl under the overhang of rosemary and chickweed.
    But no mama, in this case, a mallard. I found her absence odd, but she always returned.
    When she went broody and was no longer leaving, I offered her some food. She hissed.
...

Which woodpecker is Woody?

I share my backyard with woodpeckers — lots of them. I’ve got downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers perpetually pecking at my peanut suet. And every morning and evening, a pair of northern flickers drill away at the suet feeders in sync.
...

Vote for your favorite name

More than 550 of us aspire to name the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s famous blue heron on the Save the Bay license plates. Three finalists name the cut. Now you get to vote for your favorite.
    Hattie the Heron, suggested by Jane Dimalanta of Jessup in honor of her great-great-great-great-grandmother. “She was a strong woman and so is our beautiful bird.”
...