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Archive for June 2014
The Bald Facts— How Much Do You Know Our National Bird?
Patriotism is back in fashion, and one of America’s most potent icons is the Bald Eagle. But how much do you know about our national bird? Find out now by taking the eNature “Bald Eagles by the Numbers” quiz. Q. How many species of Bald Eagles are there in the…

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Why Are Some Creatures Are More Mature Than Others At Birth?
Why are some creatures born well-developed and able to elude predators while others need constant attention from their parents to survive? You’re standing by a pond. It’s spring, and a female Wood Duck is leading a flotilla of newborn ducklings across the water. The ducklings mimic their mother, dabbling at…

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Avoiding Snakebites— And How to Treat One If The Worst Happens
It’s the height of summer and folks throughout the country are visiting parks, hiking through the woods, or otherwise enjoying the outdoors.  At the same time, lots of creatures are on the move.  Chances are high you might encounter a snake or two if you’re out.  But don’t panic— they’re…

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Do Whales Really Have Wax In Their Ears?
In short, yes they do.  And while some may find it a less than appealing subject, the earwax of some whale species has a tale to tell. It turns out that, much like the age of a tree can be determined by studying its trunk, the age of certain whales…

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Are You Suddenly Seeing Lots of Hummingbirds?
Noticed a sudden increase in the number of hummingbirds at the feeders this month? It’s not your imagination, nor is it an invasion of birds from somewhere else. It’s the new crop of youngsters. The young birds of the year look like their mothers at first, regardless of sex. And…

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Why Do Fireflies Flash Their Lights At Us?
I was kayaking on the Potomac River yesterday evening and saw my first fireflies of the season in the foliage along the river bank.  It had been a great paddle with lots of osprey fishing, barn swallows enjoying insects overhead, leaping bass making huge splashes, and even an encounter with…

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Saturday’s Solstice Is The Start Of Summer—And Of Summer Stargazing
The heaven’s are busy these days!  Saturday (June 21) is the summer solstice and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s also the longest day of the year. The actual event happens today at 6:51 AM Eastern Daylight Time when when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined…

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What Makes Goldfinches Wait Until July To Nest?
By July, most songbirds are in the final stages of raising their young, but not the American Goldfinches. These appealing, colorful birds are just getting started.  Notoriously late nesters, goldfinches have been waiting for the thistles to bloom. When this happens in July, it signals the goldfinches that they can…

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How Do Birds Eat When They Have No Teeth?
Most people, even most kids, know that birds have no teeth. Likewise, it’s common knowledge that quite a few birds consume almost exclusively hard foods such as grains and seeds. So so how do birds digest these tough morsels if they can’t chew them into more edible pieces? The answer…

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Two Foot Incisors? Purple Teeth? Animal’s Teeth Tell All Sort Of Stories
There’s remarkable variety in the shape, size and number of teeth found in animals—  and in the uses their owners put them to. Who’s Teeth Are Biggest? Walruses are famous for their teeth; specifically, the enormous tusks that project from their upper jaws. Both sexes have these tusks. In fact,…

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Why Do Some Birds Eat Their Own Feathers?
People who’ve been humbled, it’s said, eat their words. By the same token, certain birds eat their own feathers, though not because they’ve suffered a defeat. In fact, some birds consume feathers in order to survive. The birds in question are grebes, aquatic birds with a diet that consists of…

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Do Snakes’ Actually Unhinge Their Jaws When Swallowing Large Prey?
Never eat anything bigger than your head. That’s just good advice. Unless you are a snake, of course. It’s said that a snake can eat an item so large in relation to its own head that it would be the equivalent of a human swallowing a watermelon whole—and without using…

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With All That Banging How Do Woodpeckers Avoid Brain Damage?
There’s a reason construction workers don’t operate jackhammers with their foreheads. Well, there are several reasons, but one is to avoid concussions. But what protects the woodpecker from similar injuries? For starters, the woodpecker maintains a perfectly straight strike as it bores into a tree — like a machine almost…

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What The Heck Is A Ringtail?  A Cat?  Raccoon? Or Something Entirely Different?
The Ringtail is a small ground-dwelling mammal found in the arid regions of the Western US and is known by a number of common names including Ring-tailed Cat, Civet Cat or Miner’s Cat. The name confusion is easy to understand as the Ringtail looks like a cross between a house…

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Do Armadillos Swim?
Common across much of the Southeastern United States, armadillos attract a bit of a cult following of their oddly appealing appearance and lifestyle. From an engineering standpoint, the armadillo is an exceptional creature. The heavy plates that cover its head, torso, and tail are unique among North American mammals and…

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