Monthly Archives: October 2014

Answers to the Halloween Quiz

Okay, let’s see how you did!

1. FALSE, Bats are NOT blind. Like most animals, they have eyes and can see in the dark about as well as most people. When hunting however, they rely on echolocation, sending out high pitched signals that bounce off of things and return to them, giving them a “visual” image of their surroundings. They are amazing, and can detect an object THINNER THAN A HUMAN HAIR! abatty-2054

2. FALSE Spiders are NOT insects. Spiders are related to insects in that both lack a backbone and have a hard external skeleton. But spiders have two body parts and 4 pairs of legs. Insects have three body parts and three pairs of legs.

3. FALSE, NO spiders are poisonous but all but two are venomous. Poisonous and venomous are not the same thing. Poisonous plants or animals produce a poison that is ingested. Venomous animals produce a venom that is injected. These are two different things.

4. TRUE More people die EVERY YEAR from their own pets than have died from bat rabies in the last 30 years. Rabies in bats is not a given. In fact, less than one half of one percent is said to carry the deadly disease. When a bat becomes infected, it usually leaves the colony and goes off by itself to die, unlike other animals like raccoons or skunks who may become aggressive. One should never touch or handle a bat, especially one that is found on the ground. Tell your children not to handle ANY WILD ANIMAL!

5. FALSE Most bats do not live in caves though Hollywood has made it seem otherwise. Bats do not all live in colonies as some, like the Red Bat, are solitary. By day they hang from tree branches, looking like a leaf. Others live in hollow trees or under bark.

6. TRUE Some bats can have a SIX FOOT wingspan! This is an amazing fact, but a fact nevertheless! The largest bat in the world is a flying fox with a wingspan of 6 feet! They eat fruit and live in tropical regions like parts of Thailand, Australia, and Africa.

7. FALSE Not all spiders spin webs. All are capable of producing silk from their spinnerets, but not all make webs. Instead, many hunt much like a fox or lion does, by stalking their prey or by waiting for it to come to them.

abatty-0488. FALSE Tarantulas are NOT one of the most deadly spiders in the world. They are in fact one of the world’s least aggressive and dangerous spiders. Their venom has about as much toxicity as a bee sting and they rarely waste it on a human anyway, as we are much too big for them to eat. When threatened, they can defend themselves by flinging long needle-like barbed hairs on its abdomen. Tarantulas are amazingly long-lived for their size, living as much as 30 years!

And now for some multiple choice questions:

9. D. More than 1000 How many species of BATS are there in the world? Bats make up more than a quarter of all the mammals on earth. They are the ONLY true flying mammal, as flying squirrels do not really fly, despite their name suggesting otherwise. Instead, flying squirrels GLIDE from a higher spot to a lower spot. Bats on the other hand truly FLY! Their hands are their wings, with thin membranes covering their long fingers.

abatty-05210. E. More than 30,000 How many species of SPIDERS are there in the world? Actually scientists have named more than 50,000 but many suspect this is only about a quarter of all those that actually exist! Amazing! We just haven’t discovered and named them yet.

11. B.  30 years How long is the average life span of a BAT? An amazing fact about bats is that they SHOW NO SIGNS OF AGING. Females can give birth right up until their last year of life and they can live for 30 years! Scientists are studying them to help humans reduce the signs of aging. We can learn a lot from this small, but valuable animal.

12. C   1000! How many insects can an average sized bat eat in ONE HOUR. Bats that eat insects, called insectivores, can eat a LOT OF INSECTS!  In one night a colony of Mexican Freetailed bats can eat more than a ton of insects. This is a lot of insects that might do a lot of crops damage. Think about how much we would need to pay the bats for this very valuable service. Mosquitoes are on the menu for bats so having them around your house benefits you in that you will have less mosquitoes!

13. D all of the above Fruit BATS are responsible for the pollination of which of the following crops? There are over 300 species of fruit that rely on bats for pollination. Avocados, dates, mangos, bananas, guavas, and peaches are just a few.

How did you do? Want to help bats? Click HERE to learn some things you can do to help these important and amazing animals.abatty-1766

Want to read more about BATS, click HERE

Want to read more about SPIDERS, click HERE

Creatures of Halloween QUIZ

abatty-1941Happy Halloween to everyone out there! As a child Halloween was one of my favorite holidays and I have fond memories of dressing up and trick-or-treating with my friends or brothers. Our costumes were always homemade by us with some help from our innovative Mom. What a fun holiday! Here’s to you having a wonderful and memorable Halloween!

I thought it would be fun to put up a little Halloween Quiz about the famous creatures of Halloween. Answer the 13 questions below and then click the link at the bottom of the page to find out how you did. Have fun!

First, some true or false questions to get things started:

1. Bats are blindabatty-2054

2. Spiders are insects

3. Most spiders are poisonous

4. More people die EVERY YEAR from their own pets than have died from bat rabies in the last 30 years

5. Most bats live in caves

6. Some bats can have a SIX FOOT wingspan

7. Most spiders spin webs

abatty-0488. Tarantulas are one of the most deadly spiders in the world

And now for some multiple choice questions:

9. How many species of BATS are there in the world?

a. 300  b. 600  c. 800  d more than 1000   e. none of the above

10. How many species of SPIDERS are there in the world?

a. 100  b. 1000   c. 10,000  d. 25,000   e. More than 30,000

11. How long is the average life span of a BAT?

a. 50 years   b.  30 years    c. 15 years   d. 5 years    e. More than 50 years

12. How many insects can an average sized bat eat in ONE HOUR

a. 400    b.  100   c.   1000   d. 10,000   e.  50

13. Fruit BATS are responsible for the pollination of which of the following crops?

a avocados     b. dates   c. mangos     d. all of the above   e. none of the above

abatty-5326To see how you did CLICK HERE!

To read more about bats, CLICK HERE or about spiders, CLICK HERE  OR, to see some cool pictures of SPIDERS, Click HERE.

And lastly, if you are like me and LOVE BATS and want to help these amazing creatures, click HERE to go to a wonderful website with LOTS of fabulous information.


An Amazing Discovery

Ice designs Aspen Trees Bent Creek Sumac leaves And goldenrodLight and shadows Cycles Wonderful WetlandBeauty of a DandelionHarmonyFloating reeds Serenity Silence Nature's designs PatternsPlant detailsRed dress Writing with lightIcy creations Light

I recently was playing with some of my images on my laptop, wondering what I could do to them to make them more along the lines of art than photography. What I discovered has me thrilled beyond words… ordinary pictures become abstract designs when I put them through what I’m calling The Kaleidoscope Effect. I’ll be the first to admit it’s easy to always look at the same things, the same ways. But what if we look at things with NEW EYES. What will we see then? Check out some pictures from my amazing discovery. Do you like them? Can you guess what these images started out as? Which one is your favorite and why? To see more, check out my new GALLERY called, appropriately, The Kaleidoscope Effect.

A Lesson From a Deer…

Make good use of YOUR EARS and learn to be a good listener. It is a universally appealing trait and one that isn’t hard to nurture if you put your mind to it.



What NA Bird Makes the Biggest Nest?


Kayaking on the French Broad

Kayaking on the French Broad

For the second weekend in a row, I spent Saturday sitting in a kayak while floating down the French Broad River. At the peak of the fall season, the scenery was lovely, with red and yellow and brown leafed trees decorating the river banks and sudden breezes sending colorful leaves spinning through the sky to land and then float gently down the river. At one point, someone in our group spotted a bald eagle soaring in the sea of blue above us and we all stopped to watch, thrilled at this rare sighting.

Where's my long lens when I need it?

Where’s my long lens when I need it?

What is it about the Bald Eagle that inspires such wonder and excitement in most anyone who sees one? How much do you know about this widely recognized bird?

Here are some interesting facts about our national bird–the Bald Eagle:

1. As you may have already guessed from the title, the Bald Eagle builds the largest nest of any North American bird. Usually choosing tall coniferous trees beside water, both the male and female work on the nest, gathering a myriad of materials to use including sticks, grass, moss, cornstalks and feathers. The nests are often reused each year, with the birds adding a new layer to the old one so that sometimes the nests can weigh up to a ton and be more than 9 feet across. The  Guinness Book of World Records lists a Bald Eagle nest in the state of Florida as begin the largest. It was 9.5 feet across, 20 feet deep and incredibly, weighed 4,409 pounds!


A Bald Eagle in Alaska

2. Bald Eagles do not get their characteristic white heads until they are 5 years old. Before this their feathers are a mottled brown, making them harder to recognize. Click HERE to read more about recognizing them from other birds.

3. Bald Eagles mate for life. When one of the pair dies, the other will choose a new mate.

4. Bald Eagles have 7000 feathers!

5. Bald Eagles have an incredible courtship ritual that is likely to make the “bucket lists” of many birders, including myself. Seeing the birds do this live would surely be an amazing moment! The birds lock talons high in the sky and then plummet to the earth in a series of cartwheels until just before they reach ground, when they separate and soar back into the sky. Imagine seeing this! Talk about incredible!

6. In 1782 the Bald Eagle was chosen as the emblem and mascot of the United States. Benjamin Franklin was not happy with this choice, arguing that while the birds look majestic, they harass smaller birds and often steal prey from them. He wanted the Wild Turkey to be the national bird. (If you’d like to read more about the Wild Turkey, Click HERE.)

An immature Bald Eagle

An immature Bald Eagle

7. Bald Eagles have a wingspan of 7 feet! They are 34-43 inches long and weigh between 6.5 and 14 pounds. As is true of many other birds of prey, the female Bald Eagle is larger than the male.

8. Found only in North America, Bald Eagles are generally solitary birds though will gather with others at places where there is abundant food, such as in Alaska. Speaking of food, Bald Eagles are carnivores, mainly eating fish. In addition, they will eat smaller birds, eggs, small animal like rabbits, reptiles and amphibians. They have been known to die from trying to haul heavy fish from the water.

9. Bald Eagles have no sense of smell. In the bird world, this is not unusual… you know that myth about a mama bird abandoning her babies because you touched them? Click HERE to find out if that is true!

Bald Eagle over Katahdin, ME

Bald Eagle over Katahdin, ME

10. Bald Eagles can live up to 28 years in the wild.




Weekly Puzzler #32

For this week’s puzzler, I have a picture of a feather in some frost-covered grass. Do you know whose feather it is? Click HERE for the answer!


Weekly Puzzler Answer #31

amoth-8714Many people see this at their flowers and think it’s a hummingbird. With their “furry” green bodies and burgundy wings, they do look like a hummingbird so this confusion is easy to understand. But this creature is actually a type of insect, a kind of moth called a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Having a wingspan just over 2 inches, this moth frequents flowers to drink the sweet nectar with its long proboscis (pronounced pro-ba-sis) in the same way butterflies do. The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth can be found throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada. Like a handful of other moths, it is active during the day, rather than at night as is the habit of most moths.

The latin word for butterflies and moths is Lepidoptera. This translates to “scale wing”  and is an excellent name since butterflies and moths have wings that are covered with thousands of microscopic scales. Have you ever touched a butterfly or moth wing and had some fine “powder” on your fingers afterward? These are some of the scales that have rubbed off, one reason why it is best not to handle the wings of a butterfly or moth.

A lovely luna moth

A lovely luna moth

More than 90% of Lepidoptera are moths! This is amazing given that most people only recognize butterflies, mostly because butterflies are out flying during the day when people are more likely to see them. Worldwide there are more than 300,000 species of Lepidoptera. In North America there are 11,000 species, with just 679 of them butterflies.

Most moths are nocturnal (active at night) but some, like the Hummingbird Clearwing, are not. Another myth about moths is that they are all white. Some of the most beautiful species of Lepidoptera are moths, including some larger ones, with a five inch wingspan, that live in our area, including luna, polyphemus, cercropia and tulip tree moths.  Have you ever been fortunate enough to see one of these? They are really beautiful!

A Tulip tree moth

A Tulip tree moth

If you want to read about how you can attract moths to your yard, Click HERE. Or if you want to read about a lovely moth, called a Tulip Tree moth, click HERE.