Monthly Archives: January 2016

Weekly Puzzler Answer #95

Did you have a guess for last week’s puzzler? How about if I gave you this hint:

I bet that made it really easy, huh? Yes, it’s true, gray or timber wolves used to be the most widely distributed land mammal in the world. Of course things have changed now. Wolves still are abundant in eastern Europe and parts of Asia but there are only remnant populations in western Europe and the Americas. In our country, seeing a wolf would be challenging. In Minnesota wolves are listed as threatened and are endangered elsewhere, except Alaska where the are more common, but with all the land to roam in, the likelihood of seeing one there is not very high.

I just finished a fascinating (and disturbing) book about a wolf that coexisted with people in the capital of Alaska for several years. It is an amazing story and if you like wolves, I highly recommend it. However I will warn you that some parts were difficult to read–especially when he talks about the history and methods of killing wolves. I simply cannot relate to the thinking of some people, especially those who kill something just because they can or who think we humans are the only creatures on the planet who matter. The book is called A Wolf Called Romeo and is written by a wonderful writer by the name of Nick Jans. If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether or not you enjoyed it. Use the comment box below the post to respond.

If you weren’t lucky enough to be in Juneau, Alaska when Romeo was there, your next best chance of seeing a wild wolf is by visiting Yellowstone National Park, especially in the winter. Many people watch with scopes from the road along the Lamar Valley. In 1995, 41 wolves were reintroduced into the park. Do you know why they reintroduced wolves? Or whether the program was a success?

Do you know much about wolves? For instance how big their territory is or why they howl, how long they live or what their family life is like? Next week they will be the Creature Feature, so check back to learn about these amazing animals.

Meanwhile, Here is an interesting article that was recently featured in Backpacker Magazine about hugging a wolf (safely). (Thanks to Bill for sharing this with me)

Happy weekend! HERE is the next puzzler.

Weekly Puzzler #96

Western Asheville recently got a lot of snow–setting records in many places, including where I live. We had 15 inches of snow! Shortly after the snow stopped, I saw a bird on the ground near our feeder that I didn’t recognize. Here are two pictures:



Do you know this bird? Have you ever seen one at your feeder? This is the puzzler for the week. Check back next weekend to see if your guess was correct.

Quote of the Week #52

It is really quite fitting that this Quote of the Week #52 falls on my birthday… not because I’m 52! (far away still) but because at 52, it means I have been offering quotes for an entire year–just one out of my many I have been on this Earth. Do you like the quotes of the week? Do you have a favorite quote, one that sticks in your mind?

Are you like me, one of those people who actually like their birthday? I have always tried to make the day special as I think it is important but I know many people who just think of it as another day. I focus on making the day memorable rather than lamenting the actual number and I do my best to be in the midst of some kind of adventure.

This year I am traveling… heading south towards New Orleans with two kayaks on the roof, cameras and tripods in the trunk and a puppy in the backseat…all the essentials for an interesting adventure.

Have you had an interesting adventure lately? If not, maybe it’s time to schedule one!

Here’s this week’s quote:

Making snow angels

Making snow angels

You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it. 

Weekly Puzzler Answer #94

Coyotes have red eyeshine

Coyotes have red eyeshine

Do you have any ideas about last week’s puzzler?

Did you know that many vertebrates, especially those that are nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk), have a special reflective surface in the backs of their eyes, behind their retinas, that allow them to see better in low light conditions? This layer, called a tapetum lucidum,  (pronounced HERE) acts like a mirror, sending light back through the retina and thus increasing light available to the photoreceptors in the eye. It is often referred to as eyeshine and is just another example of Nature’s amazing adaptations! It makes sense that if you are an animal out in the dark, you would have an adaptation that would allow you to fully utilize ALL available light. Not all animals have this layer, including most primates, squirrels and many birds.

Squirrels do not have eye shine

Squirrels do not have eyeshine

Interestingly  according to Cynthia Powell, a veterinary ophthalmologist at Colorado State University. “Not all eyes animals’ glow the same color. This is due to different substances — like riboflavin or zinc — in an animal’s tapetum. Also, there are varying amounts of pigment within the retina, and that can affect the color. Age and other factors also can change the color, so even two dogs of the same species could have eyes that glow different colors.” The angle at which the eyes are viewed can also affect the color of the light.

I used to think that the red eye you get in people from using a flash was caused by this tapetum, but just learned this is not true, as humans actually lack this tapetum lucidum. Instead, the red eye happens because the light from the flash occurs too fast for the pupil to close, so much of the bright light passes into the eye. The camera records this reflected light off the ample blood in the connective tissue in the back of the eye, behind the retina. Hence, the red eye so visible with flash photography!

Cats usually have green eye shine

Cats usually have green eyeshine

If you go out at night with a bright light, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of an animal’s eyeshine. Fish, including walleye have white eyeshine. Horses and many mammals have blue eyeshine. Cats, dogs and raccoons have green eyeshine and coyotes, rodents, opossums and some birds have red eyeshine. I do not have pictures of the eyeshine of any of these! because I don’t usually take my camera out at night… you will have to go out some dark night and see it for yourself! It will be a fun experiment!

Have a fabulous weekend–did you get snow where you live? We did here in western North Carolina and WOW, it’s going to be a fun day playing in the snow! I can’t wait….

Click HERE for the next puzzler!

Weekly Puzzler #95

This week’s puzzler is a single question, sans photo: What land mammal used to be the most widely distributed in the world? Check back next weekend to learn the answer.

…until then, have a fabulous time playing in the snow!!! I hope you don’t have anywhere you have to be and can spend the day outside. I will spend my day exploring our woods and playing with our puppy, Schroeder, who seems to love it, even if it is is over his head! See you again soon.


Quote of the Week #51

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Did you know that it wasn’t until the year 2000 that all 50 states officially observed this holiday? Arizona, New Hampshire and Utah were the last to get on board even though President Ronald Reagan had signed this holiday into law in 1983.

I recently came across an article about MLK and was surprised by some of the things I learned… for instance, did you know his real name was Michael, not Martin but his father was inspired by the German theologian Martin Luther and so changed both his and his son’s name? Also, Martin Luther King Jr. skipped 9th and 11th grade and entered college when he was just 15, then graduated with a degree in sociology when he was 19. And lastly, King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 when he was just 35 years old–the youngest male ever to do so. Amazingly, he donated all of the Prize money to the Civil Rights movement. At that time that was $54,123 which today would be about $400,000.  (The youngest person ever to win that award was Malala Yousafzai who was just 17 when she won it in 2014.)

If you are interested, HERE are some more facts about Martin Luther King, Jr.

And here are 3 of my favorite quotes from this inspiring man:


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”


“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Do YOU have a favorite quote from Martin Luther King Jr? If so I’d love to hear it–use the comment box below to send me a note!

Weekly Puzzler #94

shine-4383Have you ever been outside after dark and in your headlights or flashlight beam, caught an animal whose eyes seemed to glow in the dark?

Maybe you turned a spotlight on and noticed that your dog or cat’s eyes looked red or green or yellow? Why does it seem like some animals have eyes that seem to glow in the dark like this? What causes this and why do they have it? Do ALL animals have this “eye shine”?

This is the puzzler for this week! Check back next weekend to learn if your guess was correct… until then, happy Saturday!!