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Creature Feature

Don’t count your ducklings before they’re hatched

Over Memorial Day weekend, the egg appeared on a seat in my cockpit.     Clearly a boating friend was playing a practical joke on me. He must have come across a greyish-green egg as he was making breakfast and decided the obvious thing to do was leave it on the boat where my daughter and I make our home.     Not to be bested, I imagined a whirlwind of revenge pranks.

Find best friends for bargain prices at Anne Arundel County SPCA

With small sighs of relief, volunteers and workers celebrated a bit more room in the inn.     Filled to the brim with more than 50 adoptable dogs and 150 adoptable cats, the Anne Arundel County SPCA held two adoption events to make room for more needy animals.     The shelter houses, cares for and feeds up to 4,000 animals a year while seeking to find them homes.

June 13’s full moon brings the living dinosaurs to a beach near you

The Atlantic Flyway bird migration route passes over Chesapeake Bay. In the months of May and June, the full moon brings bright light to the sandy shores of the Bay, enticing horseshoe crabs to come and lay their eggs. These eggs mean new generations in more ways than one. Some develop into new crabs; migrating shore birds drop into the café to devour many others.     At dawn during May’s full moon, horseshoe crabs made shallow lumps in the surf at Sandy Point Park.
Life is determined and abundant. Keep your eyes open and you, too, may spot representatives of the latest generation of Chesapeake waterfowl, as these Chesapeake neighbors did.


At 8am late May, here swims a honker out of a finger of my creek. Closely following is a silent one. Not far behind are one, two … 36 little ones, half-grown already. But they won’t enter the larger creek, instead milling around as the steadily honking Canada steadily leads his silent follower out to the river and disappears.  

Calvert Marine Museum chips away at 58 million years

Persistence pays off. That’s the case with retired farmer Bernard Kuehn of Accokeek.     After 30-plus years combing the stream bed running through his farmland for fossilized sharks’ teeth, Kuehn hit the jackpot this month.     He discovered the soft-shell turtle fossil that lived over 58 million years ago in the Paleocene epoch.

Help stomp out Emerald Ash Borers and Hemlock Wooly Adelgids

You don’t want to know the hemlock wooly adelgid. The invader — no bigger than a period — is terrorizing towering trees, both hemlock and spruce.     These pests threaten to wipe out eastern hemlock forests, a loss that could be as dreadful as the loss of American chestnuts. The bug is loose in half the evergreen’s geographic range, 11 eastern states from Georgia to Massachusetts.

Cats (and dogs) in black (and white)

“It’s kitten season.” So writes kitten foster mother Cathryn Freeburger of Prince Frederick. “I have a houseful, as every foster does, and every rescue group is overwhelmed with calls.”     Filling her house is a family born the morning after Mama was turned in at a Baltimore County shelter. Mama Zaura is getting friendlier every day; only a year old herself but a good mother. At the milk bar are Zebulon, the only boy, and Zanna, tucked under mama’s chin; plus Zoe (white feet) and Zafira.

Foraging in the woods, these piggies eat a diet good for them — and us

Mothers are the source of life, as Cleopatra the sow, feeding her seven March-born piglets, illustrates. Now thriving at two months old, the piglets are no longer nursing, instead eating the special recipe of local barley, sorghum, field peas and whey served by P.A. Bowen Farmstead.

To an osprey, I’m the paparazzi

Living on the Chesapeake Bay allows me to play in the playground of osprey. These beautiful birds, also known as sea hawks, are creative in where they make their homes.     Many people on the Chesapeake are such lovers and advocates for osprey that they build nesting stations in hopes that a family will move in. Just down the river from my home is one such nesting station. I went to take photos, but the osprey parent was very protective of the little ones. Screaming at me in protest, she expanded her wings in hopes of intimidating me.

Canine Companions for Independence are half dog, half angel

Walking through downtown Annapolis, you may have seen puppies training to be service dogs. They seem special, with their colorful vests and ability to go into stores.     They are working to be selected for a special job, one that — in the words of Nancy Patterson who is part of a human-dog team — allows a “person to return to or begin a life of independence.”