view counter

Creature Feature

It’s worth the work to attract these birds to your backyard

The goldfinches in my back yard are a real treat this year, borrowing their brilliant yellow from the Maryland flag our Preakness winner will wear.     I’ve tried luring them with plastic, tube feeders in past years to no avail.     This year, I hung two white, mesh feeders, or socks, filled with nyjer seed, and watched the bright birds flock to them.

Life is wired to birth new life

When I started to clear my herb garden to make room for a couple of sage plants, I almost jumped out of my skin: A clutch of eggs lay in a bird-made bowl under the overhang of rosemary and chickweed.     But no mama, in this case, a mallard. I found her absence odd, but she always returned.     When she went broody and was no longer leaving, I offered her some food. She hissed.

Which woodpecker is Woody?

I share my backyard with woodpeckers — lots of them. I’ve got downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers perpetually pecking at my peanut suet. And every morning and evening, a pair of northern flickers drill away at the suet feeders in sync.     Hubby got within 50 feet and shared a few rare moments with a pileated woodpecker drumming on a rotting tree in our front yard. He said it looked just like Woody Woodpecker with his big, bright-red plumage sticking out haphazardly from his head.

Vote for your favorite name

More than 550 of us aspire to name the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s famous blue heron on the Save the Bay license plates. Three finalists name the cut. Now you get to vote for your favorite.     Hattie the Heron, suggested by Jane Dimalanta of Jessup in honor of her great-great-great-great-grandmother. “She was a strong woman and so is our beautiful bird.”

Canine Companions train years to give people independence

When Bay Weekly last checked in on Canine Companions for Independence trainee Eaton, the golden retriever/Lab mix had just stepped on the path to becoming a service dog. Paired with first-time puppy trainers Emerson and Donna Davis, Eaton spent 18 months getting socialized and learning obedience [www.bayweekly. com/articles/features/article/good-dogs].

Bubbles and Squeak invite you to join the fun

Calvert Marine Museum’s most popular residents, river otters Bubbles and Squeak, are throwing parties to subsidize their enriched lifestyle.     The parties invite up to six guests over for breakfast. Bubbles and Squeak eat while guests look on and learn from estuarine biologist David Moyer. During breakfast, the otters paint, and after the party-goers collectively choose an authentic otter artwork that is clear-coated, named and authenticated.

Mythical egg deliverer is maybe a hare — or a rabbit

Is the Easter Bunny a cottontail or a snowshoe hare?     Both are native to North America, unlike domesticated rabbits, which are elaborately bred descendents of European wild rabbits.

Tiny frogs seldom seen but often heard

Spring has sprung.         Spring peepers are wide awake and calling out loud.     These tiny frogs are among the first to call and breed. Only the males sing. They’re calling for mates.     Competition’s tough.     Females choose a mate by the quality of his call.     You can tell a peeper by a prominent dark X mark on its back.

Marshmallow creatures inspire creativity

Sam Born began selling Peeps in the early 1920s, in a small Pennsylvania grocery store he owned, under a sign that read Just Born.     Nowadays March brings Peeps madness.     The craze took off in 1953 as cellophane selections of packaged Peeps flew off neighborhood grocery shelves.     In my childhood Easter basket, I found one color and one flavor of Peeps: yellow chicks with black, beady eyes.

How Bay Weekly's Betsy Kehne got the shot

Betsy Kehne had been waiting for three decades for the bird perched a stone’s throw from her window.     At five years old, she’d grieved at learning that the pesticide DDT was pushing bald eagles to extinction.     DDT was banned in 1972. By the end of the century, the number of nesting eagles in Maryland had increased sixfold to 260 pairs. Today, more than 2,000 bald eagles make their homes in the Chesapeake region, so that seeing them soaring overhead is no longer rare.