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Creature Feature

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:
Like Penelope in the story of Odysseus, she spins and undoes on a daily cycle
      The large yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is a very special orb weaver spider. The females are known for nightly creating a beautiful intricate web with a zigzag pattern arranged vertically in the center of the web. The spider also positions herself in the center of the web.
Little but loud
       The blue-gray gnatcatcher is a very common tiny bird. They are a light bluish-gray with a white ring around their eyes and two white vertical tail streaks, seen when they flare their tails.

A story of special devotion to the least of creatures

     Patricia Terrant of Blue Angel Rescue in Lusby — featured in the August 28 Bay Weekly — is in the process of a difficult rehab of a baby squirrel. It appears to Pat that the mother squirrel tossed the little one from the nest when it was about two weeks old, or less. At that age, the baby was about the size of the last joint of her thumb. For several weeks, she has been hand-feeding it a homemade nutrient solution. But the little one is barely growing and appears weak and poorly coordinated, hardly crawling.

But this hummingbird is a moth

     The hummingbird clear-wing moth looks and acts like its namesake bird. This is one of the few moths that actively feed during the day. They hover and fly like a hummingbird, drinking flower nectar with their long tongue. To complete the mimic, they have a greenish back and a pale belly. Their steering tail, however, looks more like a shrimp’s.

If it’s got a blue tail, it’s a skink

The shiny-skinned skink is not a salamander. It is a reptile. Skinks have scaled skins and live in dry areas where salamanders, which are amphibians, cannot.     The American five-lined skink is the most common lizard in Maryland. They are also known as the blue-tailed skink because the younger lizards have bright blue tails, and also the red-headed skink because the adult males have red heads.     These aggressive animals are able to spread over a wide range. Unfortunately, they can displace other lizards, like fence swifts.
Help this native do its pollinating job by avoiding insecticides
     Our local bumblebees number 20 species. Varying from the size of a honeybee to about an inch long, they are classified by the length of their mouthparts, proboscis and tongue.      Bumblebees, our native bee, are very important for pollination.      Bees eat pollen as a protein source and nectar as an energy source. As the nectar thieves collect their pollen, they pollinate the flower. 
Tree frogs celebrate after a good rain 
     After a soft rain in mid summer there is frequently a chorus of tree frogs saying how great the rain was. The loudest and deepest voice is the gray tree frog; the next loudest is the barking tree frog. The green tree frog has a higher, lighter voice and makes a chirping sound.

Must we eat our way out of this problem?

     Stopping at Bob Evans Seafood in Shady Side, Lou Hyde reports he routinely finds blue catfish in his 240 crab pots in Herring Bay. Some of the horned invaders are so fat that he tears up his pots cutting them loose.       Mick Blackistone, fishmonger, worries that they’re eating juvenile crabs.
Cicadas turn up the volume 
      Cicadas are a group of insects that spend most of their life underground but emerge in the summer to sing and breed. They have been present since the Upper Permian Period, about 250 million years ago, with some giant specimens found with conifer fossils. Now they are present all around the world with more than 3,000 species.