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Features (Creature Feature)

Like baseball rivals, these birds are regular springtime competitors

     Most Chesapeake eagles winter along the Bay and its tributaries. Osprey, on the other hand, spend the winter in South America. In the middle of March, osprey start returning to our area only to find that many of their roosting, fishing and nesting spots have been taken over by eagles. Osprey are able to reclaim territory because they are more agile in the air than eagles. They chase and hound eagles away from nesting areas. 
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Should snappers be saved?

      The common snapping turtle is not so attractive or charming as its terrapin cousin, but it has its own fan base. The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned Maryland Department of Natural Resources to end commercial collection of these wild freshwater turtles.

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This time of year, they’re on the move

     In deciduous forest areas throughout the eastern U.S., an early spring rain gets eastern box turtles on the move as males start looking for females.
     How do reptiles mate when they’re encased in hinged shells that can close completely and tightly? Mating works because in males the hinged bottom part of the shell, the plastron, is slightly concave. 
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Giant Atlantic sturgeon spotting hopeful signs

      A sturgeon is not a pretty fish. It’s long and bony with a sharp, upturned snout and whiskers. A prehistoric fish, they have been around for more than 100 million years....
This is the time to see their courtship dance

      Several years ago I was standing quietly on a path in an open mature woods. About 20 yards ahead of me a child was kicking leaves. Suddenly a large brownish bird erupted, flew at me and landed in leaves right next to me

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These flying cigars eat their weight in pesky bugs each day

     You hear them before you see them, as if they’re part of summer’s soundtrack. Chimney swifts, resembling flying cigars, chitter as they swoop and swerve overhead. Joan Cwi, past president of the Baltimore Bird Club, has studied these strange little birds for 20-plus years.
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This excavator can be a house-wrecker

      The red-bellied woodpecker is frequently called a red-headed woodpecker. But the slight reddish tinge to its belly gives it the proper name.
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Create wild places, and wildlife will come

      My home is on the edge of a forest with many old oaks and tall loblolly pines. There are also many native shrubs and perennials in a hundred-year flood plain. Beaver Creek meanders through the flood plain before running into Severn Run, which becomes the headwaters of the Severn River.
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New life begins in tiny wet puddles

    In very early spring, melting snow and ice leave pools of water in the woods. By early summer, the pools dry up not to be seen until the next spring. The seasonal collections of water, called vernal or ephemeral pools, are the breeding ground for insects, crustaceans and amphibians of the woods.
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Bonnie Ott tells us who’s who

      When you hear a sparrow, do you envision only those birds under your bistro table? Bonnie Ott is here to expand your view to the many native sparrow species in our area. An expert naturalist, photographer and lifelong Howard County resident, she is more familiar with little brown birds than just about anyone.
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