Tag Archives: animals

Weekly Puzzler #145: Name that Bird!

So last week’s puzzler was a bird song–one of our most lovely, the Carolina Wren. I thought I would do another bird, this one common throughout much of North America, especially the southeast, and west to California. If this bird hasn’t found a mate, it might get desperate–much to the dismay of homeowners everywhere– and sing in the middle of the night–not bothering to wait until sunrise.

Listen here. Then give your guess using the comment box below.

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Weekly Puzzler #144: Bubbling Song

Listen to this bird’s song.

Do you recognize it?

Check back next weekend to see if your guess was correct! And don’t forget to use the comment box below to give your guess. I give away a prize to one subscriber each quarter. All correct answers will be entered in the drawing–drawings are the first day of each season, so summer will be the next drawing. Good luck and see you again soon.

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He Cleans…Then He Dances! Watch this Amazing Bird.

In the past I have focused my blog posts primarily on nature in North America, wanting to highlight those plants and animals that most of my subscribers would have a chance to encounter if they spent time outside in their backyards or wild areas. But sometimes I come across videos or other resources that shed light on animals and plants that live elsewhere on our planet and absolutely amaze me. The variety and perfection of adaptations in the natural world is astounding! In honor of this fascinating diversity, I am adding a new category to my blog posts, called It’s a Wonderful World.

Some new friends on a recent trip to Costa Rica alerted me to the existence of a new series called Planet Earth II. Many of you are probably familiar with the first series of Planet Earth which came out many years ago. The first one I watched in the new series featured a bird of paradise called a Wilson’s Bird of Paradise. This bird is amazing! First he cleans his “dance floor” of leaves, stick and other debris, then he belts out a tune to call in the female and after she arrives, he proceeds to put on a magnificent display. You can see it here! First the short version–just one minute from the Lab of Ornithology, and then below that, a longer version that is 30 minutes from National Geographic. Enjoy! And as always, I’d love to know what you think! Drop me a comment in the box below to share your thoughts.

See you again soon!


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Weekly Puzzler Answer #142

Hello friends! Happy holidays. Isn’t it amazing the month of December is nearly over and another year is about to begin? I wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year filled with all things that make you smile and bring joy to your heart.

rnsnake-3580Did you know the snake in last week’s puzzler? It is a ringneck snake, also known as a ring-necked snake or Diadophis punctatus. Of course when you see the whole snake you can understand how perfect this name is for it as it has a ring around its neck and a gorgeous yellow/ yellowish-orange belly. There is a northern and a southern ringneck snake, differentiated by a row of black in the middle of the yellow underside in the southern species. Northern ringneck snakes lack this row of black. These snakes are found throughout the eastern two-thirds of the United States and into Canada.


It is a little snake, growing only 10-15 inches long. It is my favorite snake because it is so easy to handle and my experience with them is that they are very gentle–so perfect for letting kids touch them–and proving once and for all SNAKES AREN’T SLIMY! Salamanders are slimy. Snakes are smooth and dry.

The best place to find them is under logs or fallen trees. Have you ever seen or handled one?

Ringneck snakes lay eggs–2-7, in early summer. 6-8 weeks later the babies hatch out, crawling off in search of food. Ringneck snakes eat slugs, salamanders, earthworms, baby snakes, insects and other invertebrates. Want to learn more about snakes? Check out some past posts about them, including cool things you may not know about snakes, are you afraid of snakes? or 10 things you may not know about rattlesnakes and lastly, what do you know about copperheads.

Perfect for holding!

Perfect for holding!

So on another note, I have, as you may have noticed, been writing less often these days. Since early November and the election, I have been in a pretty dismal state, lacking the energy and enthusiasm to do even the simplest of things. I feel that it’s my place to be inspiring and positive but these days I lack hope. Thus, I have decided to take some time off from my blog posts, perhaps a couple of months during which time I will do some traveling as well as some soul-searching and will hope to return when I have something worth sharing.


…until then, my fondest wishes to you and yours for a joyful and safe holiday. Happy winter…see you next year.


Posted in Animals, Reptiles, Weekly Puzzler | Also tagged , , , , 6 Comments

Weekly Puzzler #142: Yellow Belly

Since we’ve been talking about reptiles for the last two weeks, I thought I would continue the trend and do one more–this time a snake instead of a turtle. Do you recognize this snake?turtle2-3575

It is my favorite snake! And I will tell you why next week…

If you know the answer, use the comment box below to give your guess. As always, all correct answers will be entered in a drawing to win a quarterly prize.

…Have a fabulous day! Did you get snow where you live? Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? It’s the middle of December! Amazing how this month flies by. Enjoy your weekend and I will see you again soon.

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #141

turtle-5558The scute and shell in last week’s puzzler is from a common snapping turtle–Chelydra serpentine. Did you recognize it? One of my readers guessed snapping turtle but wondered if the shape of the shell was right. She may have been thinking of the other kind of snapping turtle–an Alligator snapping turtle, which has a shell with three distinct spiky ridges on top rather than the smooth shell of the common snapping turtle.

You often only see the head of the turtle--the rest is underwater!

You often only see the head of the turtle–the rest is underwater!

Common snapping turtles are found throughout North America east of the Rocky Mountains and evolved 40 million years ago! Wow, they have been on earth for a long time! Males are larger than females, weighing in the wild up to 45 pounds. Captive turtles can weigh up to 75 pounds, an incredible amount for an animal that is only 19 inches long. Common snapping turtles are omnivores, feeding on pretty much anything they can find and catch, including, insects, fish, birds, small mammals, amphibians, dead animals and a surprisingly large amount of aquatic plants. Snapping turtles will also eat other turtles.


A snapping turtle buried in the mud.

Common snapping turtles live up to 30 years. Most of their time is spent underwater, in a freshwater pond, or lake. They prefer bodies of water with muddy bottoms and lots of vegetation. They are known to burrow into the mud with only their eyes and nostrils visible. This is a good tactic for staying hidden and grabbing some unsuspecting prey when it comes along.

Snapping turtles venture out of water to lay their eggs. (Here’s what to do if you find a turtle crossing the road) Females lay a single clutch in sandy soil, with 25-45 eggs. These look just like ping pong balls! turtle2-0009But are soft with a slightly rough surface. The female will lay the eggs, then leave them and return to water. Eggs are often eaten by animals–especially raccoons. Baby turtles hatch out 75-95 days later. And guess how the sex is determined? By temperature. That is, eggs that are incubated in soil/sand that is cooler will be males and in warmer soil will be females. This does make one wonder what will happen with global warming–will it be too warm eventually to produce any male turtles?

Check out the next puzzler here–it’s another reptile… do you recognize it?

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Weekly Puzzler #141: Can You Identify this Turtle?

So here’s another photo of a turtle scute for you. You can see that this one not as colorful or as regularly shaped as the one from last week’s puzzler.


I was going to just give you this for the puzzler but then decided that was a bit challenging. Thus, here is the entire carapace of this mystery turtle.


Can you identify it? If so, use the comment box below to give your guess. I’ve already awarded the prize for the first day of winter, though it is still a few weeks away, but I will start collecting names for the next giveaway–far, far, away on the first day of SPRING!

As a hint, let me just say that this turtle can get BIG! Weighing in at 75 pounds, it is quite a fierce-some predator. It lives in freshwater and is common throughout much of the United States, especially the eastern US and north into Canada.

As always, check back next week to see if your guess was correct.

Have a wonderful day!

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