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Features (Creature Feature)

Goats are fuel-efficient lawn-care specialists

Removing noxious weeds and invasives can be grueling. Imagine having to pull, cut and clear over 30-plus acres.
    Good thing goats are happy to do the job for us. Two new gals are on the meadow management team at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. The pair come from Kinder Farm Park’s 4-H program.
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Beekeepers know it takes a healthy Earth to build a healthy hive

Spending your free time with thousands of stinging insects may seem odd. But love is a funny thing, and passion arises unbidden from unlikely sources.
    Across Bay Country, devotees of the humble honeybee lovingly tend their hives and work to help them thrive. At the same time, beekeepers are caught up in an impassioned fight to protect bees.
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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.
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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.
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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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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