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Creature Feature

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.

Blue herons return for Valentine’s Day

The great blue heron’s return to Chesapeake Country and consequent mating occurs mid-February, bestowing these majestic birds the nickname, lovebirds.     “Their local nickname, along with love birds, is Johnny Crane,” said Mike Callahan, president of Southern Maryland Audubon Society.

Love finds its match with Critter Cupids

This Valentine’s Day, woo your love with chocolate, flowers and a critter cupid. That’s the advice of the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., whose animals are lending their images to a loveable fundraising campaign.     Playing cupid this year are cuddling pandas, kissing seals, a Sumatran tiger, a red panda and a whole family of otters. Choose your Critter Cupid for $10 at www.subscribe.smithsonianmag.com/zoo.

Chimps Go for Ravens, 49ers eat crow

The wise guys and gals of the world of sports gave Super Bowl XLVII to the San Francisco 49ers. The chimpanzee tribe of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, however, got it right.     On Purple Friday, February 1, the zoo’s 11 chimps emerged from their night quarters into a dayroom decked out with footballs and two team banners: a red one for the 49ers and a purple one for the Ravens.     Zookeepers had set the stage for prognostication.

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.