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Creature Feature

April is Adopt an Owl Month

Do you give a hoot about owls?          Having declared April as Adopt an Owl Month, Calvert County Parks is asking you to step up to protect the raptors, specifically the northern saw-whet owl and the barn owl.     Maryland Department of Natural Resources puts the northern saw-whet owl on its list of Highly Imperiled species in the latest state Wildlife Action Plan. Barn owls are listed as High Risk of Extinction.

Follow their journey on new ­migratory map

Osprey, swans, Canada geese, ducks — plus all sorts of songbirds: We know they’re distant travelers even now on the move. Now we can follow the paths of their journeys.     For the first time, scientists have documented the migratory year 118 species birds follow throughout the Western Hemisphere.     The animated image shows us how and when these species make their flights north and south. The map can be switched to show which species are on the move, as well as the time of year they begin their annual trip.

Blue heron next in line for Internet stardom

The race is on for the debut of the latest Internet stars in the Chesapeake Conservancy’s lineup. The urgency? Getting the cameras in place before the stars arrive.     The intended reality stars are great blue herons nesting in a rookery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.     “We must move fast, as the heron customarily return to their nests in the next two weeks,” says Jody Couser, director of communications. “We have to mount the camera quickly so as not to disrupt the rookery.”

Shad come 77 stream miles closer to spawning headwaters

American shad, once plentiful in the Bay and its tributaries, are inching back thanks to a combination of restoration efforts in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.     Water quality improvements, harvest moratoriums, stocking efforts and the 2015 opening of 77 additional stream miles have all contributed to the resurgence.

Kids here, lambs, calves and piglets on the way

The stork has been busy at Kinder Farm Park in Millersville. Since the beginning of February, there have been multiple births from the celebrity Eco-Goat squad — with more on the way. All are half fainting and half Boer goats.     Penny, a black and white goat, gave birth to a girl, now named Mable. Mable is an energetic kid who loves to hop around.     Twin kids Nanny and Boh, a boy and a girl, were born to Tequila, a brown, white and black goat. The twins enjoy snuggling and romping.

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.