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Creature Feature

Anne Arundel SPCA adoption sets a record

Forget fighting mobs at the mall for Black Friday deals.     The SCPA of Anne Arundel County offered the best deal around.     Any black animal — even with a speck of black — went up for adoption for free or at reduced rates.     Seventy cats and 23 dogs qualified for the Black Friday sale.     Last year, 18 animals were adopted. The year before, 23.

From wild to Broad Breasted White

The turkey carved for your Thanksgiving dinner is likely a Broad Breasted White, a hybrid developed to live up to its name.     Heritage breeds like the Black Spanish and Urban Red Ed Cramer raises at Fisher Farm in La Plata may be tastier, but they are more costly to raise, grow slower and produce less meat than the Broad Breasted White. You’ll pay roughly twice the price of a small-farm, pasture-raised, Broad Breasted White to enjoy one of those birds.

AACo SPCA pet food bank helps give a poor dog a bone

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Anne Arundel County pets — and their human companions in need of a little help — have a reason to give thanks.

Storm-displaced pelicans make themselves at home in Port Republic

Beyond tree branches and driving rain, Hurricane Sandy delivered flying surprises that prompted avid birders to describe her severe weather and blustery gusts as a productive storm.     “It is as if the entire Northeast were a giant snow globe that has been lifted up and shaken, with a variety of bird species being found far from where they were before Sandy’s arrival,” the website ebird.com reported.

In Sandy’s wake of wrath, our backyard birds need help.     After days of sudden exposure to wet and cold, birds need to refuel with seed and suet to maintain body temperature and energy.     “First and foremost, people need to get their feeders back up and fill them with fresh seed,” says Julie Curd, owner of Wild Bird Center of Annapolis.

These spooky looking carrion feeders keep the living world healthy

Picture this: A chilly night cloaked in mist with vultures roosting by the dozens on lampposts, in trees behind the grocery store.

Tagged with a transmitter, one bird’s migration ends in tragedy, mystery

Researcher Rob Bierregaard and his team climb into nests to tag East Coast osprey with radio transmitters. This fall, 11 birds are carrying transmitters that enable Bierregaard to track their every move.     Birds have strong individual idiosyncrasies in their migration. Yet laid atop one another the migration lines form a clear pattern: East Coast Birds cling to that coast all the way down through Florida.

These bugs have legs 150 times stronger than ours

Clusters of long-legged creatures congregate around my screen door and atop my plants.     Granddaddy or daddy long-legs, also called harvestmen, turn up just about everywhere inside and outside of my home. I find them on walls and plants, the clothesline and the stone patio.     Daddy long-legs are arachnids, more closely related to scorpions than to spiders. They have one body section, two eyes and a segmented abdomen. Spiders have two body sections, eight eyes and are unsegmented.

Osprey leave Chesapeake Country

Somebody’s bound to be the last osprey to turn out the lights on summer 2012 on Chesapeake Bay.     By eight weeks old, this year’s babies were as big as their parents and ready to leave the nests. By the end of July and early August, you could see the youngsters trying out their wings, fishing skills and independence.
With summer at an end, hummers prepare for their long journey south Two hummingbirds have been warring in my backyard over nectar the color of cherry Kool-Aid.     They hover, frozen in time, sipping at the feeder and my hibiscus plants. I sit frozen too, watching them.     I hear them first, hum-hum-hum-hum. Then I see them, with iridescent wings hovering in mid-air as they eat. Tireless and melodic, they remind me that life is meant to be savored.