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Creature Feature

Like John Steinbeck, this osprey wanted to see America

In between migrations most osprey are homebodies. Conventional wisdom holds that male osprey almost always return to the vicinity of their nests to breed.     Not every osprey is conventional.

Endangered species squeeze through DC's budget war

Off limits to some members of Congress in the contentious budget war that’s been raging in Washington.     In a Republican proposal, the Endangered Species Act would have been amended so that no new species — regardless of numbers — could be added to the threatened or endangered list. The bill would, however, allow species to be removed from the list.

Whether mammals sweat or pant, heat gets us all down

You’re not the only species suffering in this summer’s dog days. Farm animals overheat much the same way you do, according to the Maryland Farm Bureau.     So Maryland farmers get creative to keep their charges cool.     You can’t sweat like a pig because, like dogs and cats, pigs don’t sweat. The species’ natural remedy, mud, not only cools them down but also works like sunscreen.

After an active spring, the native mosquito populations
are naturally declining. But not the Asian tiger mosquito.

A rainy March and April kept mosquito slappers busy.     “We had populations in larger numbers than expected this spring,” says Mike Cantwell, chief of Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Mosquito Control Program. “High rainfall brought out exceptionally large broods of woodland species. But these are single-generation species. Once they’re done, you don’t see them until next year.”

Download your widget and find out who’s out there

You may need to get down on your hands and knees for this one.         And you will definitely need your computer or smart phone.     Bee counting has gone hi-tech.

Disneyland Mousers get housing, food, health care — and a job

The cat’s out of the bag. And Calvert’s feral cats may be out of a home.         After nine mostly quiet years, Calvert County’s feral cat sanctuary is roiled by the national debate on birds vs. feral cat colonies. Now the county is divided over whether the managed population of cats should be allowed to stay on the county-owned tree farm in Prince Frederick — or be kicked out to fates unknown.

While they don’t bite, mosquito-like giants do pester

First it was the invasion of the stinkbugs that had Bay Country residents bugged. Those pests have, for the most part, left our homes for the outdoors — unfortunately to eat their way through summer crops. But that’s another story.     Now it’s another flying insect driving some of us nuts.

Five Smithsonian cheetah cubs thriving

For five cheetah cubs born May 28 at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., the first doctor’s visit was a house call.     In mid-June, Smithsonian biologists spent a few minutes examining the two-pound furballs — and happily reported all five cubs to be healthy and active.
Each year, thousands of citizens report their bird sightings to the Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running citizen science project in the world. This year researchers are hoping that citizens will take this bird sighting zeal from land to sea.

Preparing for disasters natural and unnatural

The zombies are coming!         Well, maybe.         Actually, not likely.