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Creature Feature

Aquarium names baby loggerhead

No, it’s not Yertle. By popular acclaim, the National Aquarium’s baby loggerhead turtle has been named Sheldon.     Turtle fans offered more than 20,000 entries during the Aquarium’s competition to name the newcomer. Sheldon joined the Maryland Mountains to the Sea exhibit in December thanks to a partnership with the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores’ Loggerhead Head Start program, which rescues and rehabilitates imperiled hatchlings.     Each of the five names selected as finalists has a story.

Now at home in Maryland Zoo

He wasn’t a fish out of water, but just the same, he was not where he should be. The young sandhill crane was discovered in western Maryland, walking down the center lane of a highway and hanging out in a Home Depot parking lot.

Why do these home-bodies endure the ­rigors of a northern winter when they could fly south?

All birds are migratory to some extent. Some may travel great distances twice annually, from North to South America. Others may regularly move, as the seasons turn, from Canada to Mexico and farther. A few species merely move southward as cold weather advances. Still others wander about in search of a good food supply.     A smaller number do not travel much at all. They may spend their entire lives within a mile of their birthplace, expanding their range only as the population increases. The cardinal is one of these stay-at-homes.

National Aquarium adds baby loggerhead to its family

A loggerhead turtle hatchling from North Carolina is now living the good life at the National Aquarium, free from the dangers facing the threatened species.     While loggerheads are less likely to be hunted for their meat or shells than other sea turtles, they are seriously threatened by bycatch — the accidental capture of marine animals in fishing gear.

Eagles mark a turn toward the ­season of birth

Editor’s note: Bay Weekly readers voted wildlife artist and journalist John W. Taylor, of Edgewater, Best Bay Artist this year. A keen observer of nature, Taylor believes that spring begins here on the winter solstice, December 21, when daylight begins its six-month, minute-by-minute stretch. His book Chesapeake Spring collects his observations and paintings of that season, from which we reprint the first of those observations.

Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel rises from endangered to thriving

It’s another win for the wildlife. One of the first animals on the endangered species list, the Delmarva fox squirrel is now a conservation success story.     Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the squirrel from the list after 48 endangered years. The animal is no longer at risk of extinction thanks to a half century of federal protection and conservation, such as closing hunting and expanding its habitat.

Not too cold, please, these penguins beg

Winter is creeping up, leading us through frost to cold to ice and snow. That’s weather that will chill the newest penguin residents of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore as much as it will you and me.     As African penguins, the newly hatched pair prefers moderate temperatures like those predicted for this week, between about 41 and 68 degrees. So the zoo’s main conservation center building, where they nest comfortably with their parents Mega and Rossi, has controlled temperatures.

Without them, Christmas would be a lot less colorful

In equatorial zones, poinsettias grow like weeds. But a touch of our winter is killing. How these tropical natives have become the flower of Christmas is a story of careful science in the greenhouse and ingenuity in marketing.     “Most mother plants are grown offshore, in Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Kenya,” says Ray Greenstreet, whose Greenstreet Gardens is a major grower for our homes and for wholesalers.

On the hunt in November

The antlered buck posed statue-like in full-focused attention in a valley surrounded, at a fair distance, by the houses of Fairhaven Cliffs. Perhaps he’d seen me seeing him from my perch well above him, but not assuring him safety were I a bow hunter. That hunting season lasts most of November, the month — this odd sighting reminded me — when Maryland’s 227,000 deer are at their most visible.

A sweet potato the size of a turkey

This sweet potato could be the vegetarian answer to the Thanksgiving turkey.     It looks the part, though Birgit Sharp — who grew the lookalike at American Chestnut Land Trust’s Double Oak Farm in Prince Frederick — calls it The Swan.     At 25 pounds, nine and one-quarter ounces, it’s big enough to do the job.