view counter

Features (Creature Feature)

No need to put out the welcome mat

The mouse stood high in ancient Greece, where the god Apollo took the creature as one of his namesakes, Apollo Smintheus. White mice were kept under the altars in temples to that incarnation.
    Most of us can better relate to the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit tradition wherein musuka means thief or robber.
    Sanskrit may not be familiar to you, but the burglary antics of the common house mouse probably are, especially this time of year.
    Freezing temperatures, like our recent dip into the low teens, send these furry rodents scurrying inside to the warmth of our homes and offices.
    If you have mice, you’re not alone. Each winter, mice and other rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S. Mice visit between October and February, looking for food, water and shelter from the cold. Mice build their homes in our homes, near food sources, like our pantries and cupboards.
    Prolific and voracious, they eat more than growing teenagers and breed faster than rabbits. They eat up to 20 times per day and breed year-round, starting at about two months old.
    With a gestation of less than three weeks, a litter of eight to 14 pups and an average of five to 10 litters a year, a single female mouse will give birth to about 120 babies each year.
    That’s a lot of mice. Let two in, and many more will follow.
    Like little Houdinis, mice can squeeze through openings as small as a dime. A small crack or gap on the exterior of your home is an open door — and invitation — for mice.
    Prevent mice from gaining access into your home by sealing any openings on the exterior (such as where utility pipes enter) with a silicone caulk. You can also fill gaps and holes inside your home with steel wool.
    Keeping cats as pets helps, too. Since I rescued my two kitties three years ago, I haven’t seen a single mouse inside.
    Mice are cute and cuddly to some folks who may even keep them as pets, but they can transmit a disease called salmonellosis, a bacterial food poisoning that occurs when food is contaminated with infected mice feces.
    That’s just the beginning. Mice can carry as many as 200 human pathogens.
    No wonder Apollo Smintheus was a god of disease.

Canada geese are here, ducks arriving, swans not far behind

Back when people were fewer in the Chesapeake watershed, skies used to blacken with waterfowl.
    You can get a glimpse of how abundant waterfowl can be, starting with Canada geese.
    Big Vs of Canadas are as common as school buses. You hear them coming by their honking.
...

10 ways our pets enrich our lives

Our animal companions make us healthier, happier and saner.     
    Animal lovers have always held that truth to be self-evident. Now, research is backing up that heart-felt conclusion. Benefits range from reducing allergies, blood pressure, stress and loneliness … to increasing self-esteem and activity … to drawing other people to us.
...

Where to turn for help and to help

Anne Arundel County Animal Control Shelter
County animal management service handles nuisance animal issues, sponsors a Thursday rabies shot clinic, sells animal licenses and shelters found and abandoned animals temporarily before placement or euthanasia: 411 Maxwell Frye Rd., Millersville: 410-222-8900; aacounty.org/animalcontrol

...

Blooms are bigger, badder

The Bay is being overrun by algae. Billions and billions of the tiny creatures are making life harder on the rest of the ecosystem. The three most common algae in the Bay have been blooming more frequently over the last 20 years, according to researchers at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
    Mahogany tide, formally known as Prorocentrum minimum, doubled its average number of annual blooms between 1991 and 2008.
...

Run the Freedom Hill People Steeplechase, Kids Canter or Toddler Trot

Horses give humans a lift at Freedom Hill Horse Rescue in Calvert County.
    In species pairings called Equine Assisted Learning, people learn leadership, goal-setting and teamwork.
    In Equine-Based Education, people learn about horses, their proper care and treatment, natural horsemanship and the basics of horseback riding.
...

Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center plays Santa to injured critters but needs your help

Dozens of raptors were among the thousands of animals rescued this year by the Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center in Lusby.
    One stands out for her size and the relationship she formed with her rescuers.
    Big Bird, as she was called, was rescued from a farm in southern Maryland. A nesting mother with three babies and a mate in a nearby tree, she had a broken left wing. What caused her injuries was never learned.
...

How to get to know our ­regulars and seasonal visitors

At the tip of Thomas Point in Annapolis on a windy November morning, Linda Davis sees buffleheads, horned grebes and a loon diving in the Bay’s chop.
    “I am just learning my birds,” says Davis, of Shady Side. “I had surgery last winter, so I put up feeders outside the window where I sat and saw all these birds I didn’t even know existed. Then I began photographing birds, and now it’s all I want to do.”
...

Resources abound online and in nature to help you sharpen your birding skills. Here’s a short list, organized by key questions

Who?
    Find tips on birding basics plus how to identify birds by song and plumage at All About Birds: www.allaboutbirds.org.
...

Maryland bears and hunters coexist

Maryland is a pretty wild place, and getting wilder all the time. Foxes are joining deer, groundhogs, opossums, raccoons and squirrels as regular neighborhood families; skunks and coyotes are occasional visitors.
    Lest black bears rejoin the list of wildlife returning to their original statewide range, some 1,100 hunters stalked them, killing 69, in Allegany and Garrett counties from October 20 to 23.
...