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Creature Feature

These intelligent birds have plenty to talk about
     Chickadees are a group of small but vocal birds that have learned to adapt to living around humans. They are highly intelligent and have a considerable vocabulary — among themselves. Even other animals rely on them for danger alerts as their raspy alarm can be heard for a considerable distance.     However, they also can be quick to complain. They follow me around the woods, telling all the other animals where I am. Around my yard they complain when the feeder levels are low.

Surely they deserve an exclamation point!

     Some butterflies overwinter as fully winged adults. Somehow they manage to find a spot to hide and not freeze or have their wings damaged.       Two species, the question mark and comma butterflies, both are known to overwinter. They are quite similar to each other in other ways, as well. 

Is massive sea creature a Chessie ancestor?

       Researchers in Poland recently announced discovery of what’s left of a pliosaur, a fierce predator that patrolled the oceans 150 million years ago, in the Jurassic period.          Paleontologists working a cornfield in the Holly Cross Mountains in central Poland also found bones from a second ocean creature, this one with a long neck, as well as bones of ancient turtles and fossilized teeth three inches wide. They described their findings in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.
Flycatchers, maybe hummingbirds
     In winter, birds that are displaced by severe cold in the far north don’t find the Chesapeake Bay area so bad a place. Unusually, one of the common visitors is a flycatcher, the phoebe.
Broad-winged hawks come out en masse for migration
     The fall hawk migration is still taking place. Here is a common passerby.       Broad-winged hawks live in eastern hardwood forests, including Maryland, but are uncommon to see. They weigh only one and a half pounds but have a wingspan of three feet, making them the smallest of the Buteos, a class that includes red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks. Their most distinctive marking is the single, wide, white stripe on their tail.
Whooo is the ghost owl?
       The barn owl has developed a very interesting relationship with humans. They so commonly borrow human constructions that the habit is reflected in their name. As well as barns, they are frequently found in other buildings, including church steeples. The appearance of the pale bird near cemeteries gives them the nickname Ghost Owl.
Seals come by ocean for a lie on the sand
      In the middle of the winter, tired seals haul out of the ocean, beaching at Ocean City to rest and warm up. Mother harbor seals and pups lay together, or the pups alone while the mother waits offshore.       Four types of fish-eating seals are common along Maryland beaches. The most common is the harbor seal. Harbor seals are large, almost 300 pounds, and mostly gray with occasional dark spots. Their heads are sleek and nose slightly pointed.
A bug well adapted for Halloween 
      Late at night as you turn on a light, a sudden scurry catches your eye. As it disappears into a hiding spot, you are surprised by the speed and the flurry of legs.

But vultures do have some disgusting habits

      Both black and turkey vultures, also known as buzzards, are common throughout North America, especially around the Chesapeake Bay. Even more are present during the fall migration, when they fly around the updrafts of the mountains and along the coastal shores.          You see them circling in large groups called kettles. Many spend the winter here, so you also see them on roofs and trees trying to warm up in the sun.
The California condor’s escape from extinction
     The California condor was on the brink of extinction. How close it really was, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife describes: