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Creature Feature

Sign up for Bird School and you’ll think like a bird

As cold weather sets in and you fill your bird feeders, you’ll find hours of entertainment — and bafflement — in their behavior. What are they up to with all the strutting, head-bobbing, feather-fluffing and wing flapping? Get the answers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, now enrolling backyard birders in the online bird-behavior course Investigating Behavior: Courtship and Rivalry in Birds. Over five weeks, you’ll learn how to observe and interpret bird behavior in terms of reproduction and survival.

The National Aquarium is looking for a manatee with a bad sense of direction

If there is a manatee swimming in the Middle Branch of the Upper Patapsco, it must be cold. The sub-tropical marine mammal was reported in mid-October. Since then, nothing — despite a plea to boaters for updates. “With this one we haven’t been able to confirm an actual sighting ourselves with photographic evidence,” says Baltimore National Aquarium’s media/public relations director Jen Bloomer.

Tundra Swans Winging Their Way to Chesapeake Country

Migrating to their winter home, tundra swans will soon be filling the gap in the sky left by south-migrating osprey. Our snowbirds could be arriving any day.

Mast year creates a bounty of acorns, which should lead to a bounty of bushy tails next year

Which came first, the acorn or the squirrel?  Whichever you prefer, both will be doing exceptionally well this year as acorns fill the forest floor and squirrels’ stomachs. For both species, 2010 is a mast year.

From here to Venezuela

Where have our osprey gone after abandoning Chesapeake Country over the last six weeks? In general, we know that Chesapeake osprey fly from between 2,000 and 4,000 miles. Their journey takes 15 to 50 days, depending on the individual’s flight plans. Transmitter-tagged birds can tell us much more. So we turn to 40-plus-year osprey researcher Rob Bierregaard of the University of North Carolina. He’s been banding birds since 2000 on Martha’s Vineyard and in New York, Rhode Island, Delaware and South Carolina.

Maryland’s horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and burros are being counted in their very own census.

 

Anne Arundel Countians ponder their animal magnetism at the first annual Do You Look Like Your Pet Competition

 

AAA finds that careful driving has gone to the dogs

  It’s now illegal for Marylanders to drive with their hands on their phone, but according to a AAA study, we’re still likely to fall victim to another driving distraction: our animal companions. The study — a joint effort between AAA and Kurgo Pet Dog Products — polled 1,000 dog owners who have driven with their dogs over the past year. Fifty-nine percent of pet owners admit that travel with their pets distracts them from the job at hand. The trouble arises because most drivers surveyed didn’t see the danger in their own behavior.