Creature Feature

February 2 is too important a day to sleep through

February 2 is halfway through winter, so what better time to gather with friends and neighbors to eat good food, drink heartily and look ahead to the coming spring?     The Pennsylvania Dutch descendants of German immigrants did just that. Among the first celebrants of Groundhog Day, they partied hardy in Punxsutawney, Penn., as far back as 1887.

Student-artists show why turtles and balloons make a bad couple

When the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response team found Kermit washed ashore, the small green sea turtle was wasting away. X-rays showed balloons and plastic bags blocking Kermit’s throat.     Kermit and many turtles like him inspired the students at First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach to use the trash to get people talking. The student-artists created turtles stuffed with the balloons collected on the beach to demonstrate what turtles swallow.

Rufous hummingbird thrives in winter

My procrastination finally paid off. Long after the summer visitors to my hummingbird feeder had departed for their winter home, my feeder hung like a lone beacon in the leafless maple tree. I’ll get around to it, I kept telling myself.     While I was lazily watching out my window a flash of tan caught my eye. Then again. What was it? I knew it was some kind of hummingbird, but why was it here this time of the year?

Fortunately, its roar is worse than its bite

Few things look scarier than a gelatinous mass with tentacles twisting in the Bay.     Chesapeake swimmers endure sea nettle stings in summer. But few have been stung by a lion’s mane jelly, the world’s largest known jellyfish species. Lucky for us, these jellyfish are seasonal inhabitants of the Bay from November to March.

These long-distance travelers migrate from the Arctic for our mild winters

The swans have landed.         In November, tundra swans succeed osprey as Chesapeake Country’s big new birds.     The snow-white swans average four feet in length and weigh between 13 to 20 pounds.

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 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.