Monthly Archives: August 2016

Quote of the Week #72

What are your thoughts on spending time alone? Do you like it? Do you do it often? Or do you avoid it altogether, preferring to always be with someone else? Does being alone make you uncomfortable? Scared? Sad?

For some people, I think solitude equals loneliness. I think there are many people who have never learned how to be alone or are even aware that there IS value in spending time by themselves. I think sometimes our society paints such a negative picture of alone-time.

I came across a quote recently that I thought was fabulous—and now I will share it with you here.

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What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree?

10 Things You May Not Know about White Pelicans

puzz-1149White pelicans in a large group soaring through the sky is a pretty amazing sight. They seem like they never have to flap their wings at all, just riding the thermals, high above the earth. There is so much about them that is interesting… so let’s get started.

1. First off, white pelicans have one of the largest wingspans of any North American bird. At 9 feet, this is impressive!

puzz-97732. You can probably guess that white pelicans eat fish, but did you know that they sometimes work together to herd fish to more shallow water where they can feast on them more easily?

3. From the time an egg hatches til the chick leaves the nest and becomes independent, the parents provide roughly 150 POUNDS of food!

4. White pelicans are pretty accomplished thieves, stealing from other pelicans and cormorants so they don’t have to do the work themselves.

Notice the odd growth on the top of the bill

Notice the odd growth on the top of the bill

5. Have you ever looked closely at a pelican and noticed an odd projection on its bill? When I was in Kansas last winter, it seemed like all of the white pelicans we were seeing had this weird bump on the upper mandible near the tip of the bill. I wondered about it, thinking it was some kind of genetic deformity. After all, I had seen white pelicans before that did not have this hump. But research showed that they have this odd bump during the breeding season–apparently, it makes them more attractive to prospective mates! Go figure. Interestingly, this is called a nuptial tubercle and it will fall off after the breeding season.

6. White pelicans breed on islands in shallow wetlands with many other birds, including other white pelicans and also cormorants. puzz-9798

7. Unlike brown pelicans that fly high above the water and then dive down into the water to catch their prey, white pelicans get their food by feeding from the water surface, dipping their beaks into the water to snag fish and other aquatic animals.

When they are in the water you don't see their black-lined wings

When they are in the water you don’t see their black-lined wings

8. White pelicans are one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. An average white pelican weighs between 7 – 20 pounds.

9. Females lay 1-3 eggs in a slight depression in the ground. Both the male and female will incubate the eggs–not the way other birds do, but with their giant orange feet! Eggs hatch in about a month and usually, only one will survive to leave the nest. Chicks leave the nest–fledge–when they are about 10 weeks old.

10. Except for the fact that males are slightly larger than females, the two appear identical.

A flock of white pelicans high above

A flock of white pelicans high above

Weekly Puzzler Answer #125

Was the soaring bird in last week’s puzzler familiar? Have you seen this bird?

puzz-1149After spending time in Florida some years ago and then in Nebraska and Kansas last winter and getting to see MANY of these birds, they are one of my favorites, especially in flight. When they are in huge flocks, high above the earth, they seem to just float there, hardly ever flapping their giant wings. Their black and white shapes are striking against the blue sky. They are white pelicans!

White pelicans at a wetland in Kansas

White pelicans at a wetland in Kansas

White pelicans are one of North America’s largest birds, with a wingspan of 9 feet! That’s one giant bird! Studies show that parents feed developing birds about 150 pounds! of food from the time they hatch until the time they are ready to be on their own. Wow, that’s a lot of food.

Here is the next puzzler! Have a great weekend.

Weekly Puzzler #126: Another Striking White and Black Bird

Okay, check out this photo of yet another rather large black and white bird. Do you recognize it?

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Use the comment box below to give your guess. All correct answers will be entered in the next drawing. You have to be IN it to WIN it!

Have a fabulous weekend! See you again soon. Click here if you want to see the answer.

Quote of the Week #71

Most of us at some point in our lives probably say “Someday I’m going to …. ” Go to college. Be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a Mom…Buy a house… Get married…etc.

Some even say “Someday I’m going to win an Olympic gold medal.” And then hours turn into days and days into years and then one day they ARE in the Olympics and they DO win a gold medal. These people are amazing!

For most of us though, our goals are a little smaller and if you’re like me, you might say this often, but then come up against all kinds of obstacles that stop you from achieving those goals–all kinds of reasons why they aren’t going to happen. It is easy to lose track of our goals when life gets in the way. What do you want to do–Someday?

The Olympics should teach us all that whatever the goal — hard work and dedication is essential. Having a vision is a first step, but then taking small steps towards that goal is the way to make it happen.

Watching the Olympics was inspiring, just seeing all of those athletes trying to make their longtime dreams come true. Did you enjoy watching? Did you have a favorite event?

I think this week’s quote is fitting. Check it out….

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What are your thoughts? What goals have you set recently that YOU made a reality?

10 Things You May Not Know about Swallow-tailed Kites

Last week’s puzzler was a swallow-tailed kite–a bird I suspect some readers may never have seen or even heard of. That’s because it is not common in most of the United States.

kite-2562Have you ever had the pleasure of watching a swallow-tailed kite soar in the sky above you? It is quite a sight to see as these beautiful birds are so graceful.

Let’s look at a few interesting things about these birds:

  1. Before 1900 these birds could be found in 21 states, their range extending from Florida and the Gulf Coast states all the way up to Minnesota. These days you can find them in only a handful of  states– Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas and Florida. Their range also includes Central and South America and the west Indies.
  2. Some swallow-tailed kites spend summers breeding in North America and then migrate to northern South America. Florida has the highest population of kites and you can see them there only from March-September.
  3. Swallow-tailed kites are the largest species of kite in America. They can be 19-24 inches long, which includes their forked tail that is 12-15 inches long. They have a wingspan of 50 inches.
  4. dragon-Swallow-tailed kites eat almost all of their food on the wing. Have you ever watched a dragonfly in flight? If so then you know what amazing flyers they are, twisting and turning and darting about so quickly that it’s hard to imagine anything ever being able to catch them. But swallow-tailed kites do! They chase them and then snag them in mid-air! (the same way dragonflies catch their prey!) Also on their menu are butterflies, beetles,bees, wasps, other insects, frogs, lizards, snakes, small birds and less often, bats, fruit and small fish.
  5. They also drink while they are flying! To do this they glide low above the body of water and open their beaks.
  6. They build nests high in dead trees–often a 100 feet from the ground! They often nest in loose colonies with other kites, usually by water.
  7. Both males and females incubate and feed the growing babies. Their incubation is 28-30 days–a long time if you’re a bird used to soaring through the sky! Chicks leave the nest to take their first flight at around 40 days after hatching.
  8. Have you ever heard of obligate siblicide? Me either, but in studying this bird I came across this term. Many females lay two eggs. The one that hatches first often kills the other one so it can have all of the food and attention from its parents. Talk about extreme! But in nature, it’s just another adaptation that equals success.
  9. Two swallow-tailed kites mating

    Two swallow-tailed kites mating

    Mating for kites (and many other birds) is a SUPER QUICK affair! I was in Florida a couple of years ago in early spring and was watching some swallow-tailed kites wheel around in the sky. All of a sudden one landed on the top of a very tall dead tree, then another quickly landed there too–on top of the first one! They were together for less than 30 seconds, and then both flew off. A bit later a kite flew overhead with a stick, obviously ready to build a nest. Talk about a quick courtship!

  10. Males and females look similar.
    A kite with nesting material

    A kite with nesting material

Weekly Puzzler #125: White and Black

Last week the puzzler was a swallow-tailed kite–which you may know, is a lovely black and white bird of prey. Here is another black and white bird. Can you recognize it from below? These birds were high above me, floating on invisible air currents when I took this photo. What bird is this?

As always, I look forward to your guesses! Use the comment box below to offer an answer to this week’s puzzler–if you are correct you could be the winner of the next free giveaway! (On the first day of autumn)

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Click here for the answer.