Its Not Strange; Its Spring
|Male Northern Cardinal
photo by Fred Fallon
The Peculiar Percussionist and Beyond
by Eric Smith
This year, a drumming section has been added to the Backyard Springtime Bird song Orchestra. Its played by a male cardinal.
The brilliant red, fiercely territorial bird perches in a tree near the house and throws himself at his brilliant red, apparently territorial reflection in the window. He wont give up. Needless to say, neither will his reflection.
Many animals besides male cardinals do strange things as spring rolls around. As the weather changes, you may hear the eerie wailing of cats at night. You may see robins strutting about with ruffled feathers. You may notice small birds, like mockingbirds, swooping down on bigger grackles or way bigger crows.
But dont think Mother Nature has gone nuts. For many animals, including cats, robins and cardinals, breeding season is here. Breeding season makes them more aggressive and brings out strange behavior as they try to find a mate. Mockingbirds and others are known to dive-bomb bigger birds (or even people) that come too close to their nests.
Many things that appear strange to some are understandable, even normal to others. For strange behavior, look at humans! We gather in large numbers and throw ourselves into large volumes of water. This odd behavior becomes more and more common as the weather gets hotter. Were talking about swimming pools, of course!
Other Riddling Rituals:
Particularly after rough weather, notice pairs of horseshoe crabs washed upside-down on the beach. They mate close to shore, where the female will lay her eggs.
When approached, an adult killdeer may suddenly break a wing. The limping killdeer will lead an enticed predator or concerned person away from her nest of newly hatched chicks, nestled nearby. Killdeer, grass and gravel field-going relatives of the sandpiper, often lay their eggs in rocks.
Carrying sticks longer than their own bodies, osprey struggle for home. You guessed it nesting material. Those big branches in high osprey nests didnt get up there on their own. Osprey, or fish hawks, nest high and often over water to avoid predators.
Friday, June 21
Read My Very Own Octopus, by Bernard Most, and make an octopus to take home. 10am @ Barnes & Noble, Annapolis Harbour Center: 410/573-1115.
Saturday, June 22
Bring binoculars and field guide to search for birds in the morning, or look and listen for nocturnal animals at night. 8-10am or 89:30pm @ North Tract, Patuxent Research Refuge, Rt. 198 between Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Rt. 32. Rsvp: 301/497-5887.
Learn where osprey live, what they eat and more. 24pm @ Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Wrighton Rd. off Rt. 258, Lothian. $2.50 w/age discounts: 410/741-9330.
Football For All
Kids 5-14 (as of 12/31/02), sign up to play Beach Buccaneer football. Kids 5-16 sign up to cheer on teams. Bring birth certificate and proof of address. 10am2pm @ Chesapeake Beach Town Hall. $45 w/family discounts: 301/855-7704.
June 22-June 23
Comedy of Errors, or Something Similar
Kids of all ages see Twin Beach Players steal a page from Shakespeare and send him spinning in his grave. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and a picnic supper. 6pm @ 3rd & Bay Ave., North Beach. Free (donations welcome): 301/855-0009.
Tuesday, June 25
Explore the world of birds and bugs and take home a ladybug craft. 10am @ Barnes & Noble, Annapolis Harbour Center: 410/573-1115.
Boys 11-17 make new friends, enjoy new adventures, explore woods and beaches, camp beneath stars, cook over campfires and learn more about your community, nation and world with the Boy Scouts of America. Bring your family to this open house. 7pm @ Cedar Grove Methodist, Deale: 570/916-7994.
Beauty and the Beast
Colorful, hand-carved marionettes act out this magical tale, thanks to Stevens Puppets and the Calvert Library. The Stevens family has been working with marionettes since 1933. 10am Tu @ Beach Elementary School, Chesapeake Beach; 2pm Tu @ Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Dept.; 10am W @ Southern Community Center, Lusby; 2pm W @ Prince Frederick Rescue Squad. Free: 410/535-0291.
Wednesday, June 26
Kids 6-9 spend a morning by the Bay. Bring your fishing pole and tackle and take home fish and prizes. Bait and guidance provided. 8:30am @ Kings Landing Park, Huntingtown Rd. off Solomons Island Rd., Huntingtown. $3 w/member discounts; rsvp: 410/535-5327.