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Weekly Puzzler Answer #148

Happy Saturday to you! Were you able to identify the handsome bird in last week’s puzzler? Perhaps you’ve seen this bird use a lure to catch a fish?

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It’s a Green Heron, though honestly I don’t think this is the best name for the bird as in most lighting situations, it does not look very green.

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Check out this video! It’s amazing! (wait for the end, it’s worth it!)

Here is the next puzzler–another bird found in similar habitats as the green heron, yellow-crowned night heron and black-crowned night heron.

Enjoy your weekend! I will see you again soon.

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #147

Did you recognize the handsome red-eyed bird in last week’s puzzler? If you’ve ever gone canoeing, kayaking or spent any time around water, you’ve probably seen this bird. It is called a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.

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Yellow-Crowned Night Herons are 22-28 inches tall with a wing span of a little under 4 feet. They are common in coastal marshes, barrier islands and mangrove forests, but can also be found inland to the Midwest and as far north as Michigan. Despite their name suggesting otherwise, they will hunt at all hours of the day, and night, stalking whatever they can catch but favoring crabs and crustaceans like crayfish.

In the US there are two species of night herons–the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron and the Black-Crowned Night Heron, pictured below. You can see that both were appropriately named!

A Black-Crowned Night Heron

A Black-Crowned Night Heron

Check out the next puzzler–another bird found in similar habitats.

And have a great weekend! See you again soon.

 

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #146

Did you know the answer to last week’s puzzler? Did you recognize the “meow, meow” calls in there that are distinctive to the Gray Catbird? Is this a bird you’ve seen before?

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The Gray Catbird, as you can see from its picture, is a plain, dark gray bird with a black cap and a long black tail, that it often cocks, allowing you to see the chestnut under tail coverlets. They are common throughout most of the United States.

Notice the black cap

Notice the black cap

Like Northern Mockingbirds and Brown Thrashers, they are great mimics. Northern Mockingbirds repeat the various sounds for 4-6 times, Brown Thrashers for 2-3 times and then Gray Catbirds, who repeat the different songs in a much less organized fashion, with plenty of their characteristic mews in between.

Here you can see the chestnut under its cocked tail

Here you can see the chestnut under its cocked tail

Ready for another puzzler? Here’s the next one.

Have a great weekend. I will see you again soon!

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #145

Did you recognize the insistent calls in last week’s puzzler as ambird-2 Northern Mockingbird? If you’ve ever had one of these in your yard, looking for a mate, you know how persistent they can be!

They are masters at mimicking the calls of other birds, from robins, to blue jays, to towhees and everything in between. A male in his territory will repeat a bird call–say an American robin–2-6 times before switching to another bird’s call. They may go on for 10-15 different bird songs. They will also mimic frog songs, and some even mimic human-made sounds like doors opening or car alarms. They are really amazing when they get on a roll!

Watch this bird, which I captured recently at The North Carolina Arboretum, going through his repertoire of sounds:

Here’s the next puzzler, another bird song you may have heard while you were outside enjoying the sounds and sights of spring.

Have a great weekend and see you again soon!

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #144

Did you know last week’s bubbling bird song? If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you’ve probably read posts about this bird. It’s one of my favorites–the Carolina Wren.

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One of my favorite posts of all time was about the wren–called 4 Things we can learn from Carolina Wrens. 

This baby wren keeps falling asleep!

This baby wren keeps falling asleep!

Another post I like is about surprise gift that I found one day when I was tidying up for visitors–called a gift from wrens and still another, this one a weekly quote about resilience and telling the story of wrens that nested in our yard. And then ONE more! about a wren making me smile.  (Because he kept falling asleep even though he was supposed to be fledging)

You can attract wrens to your hanging a bird feeder, especially one like this* that has room for suet. (Here’s a recipe for making your own suet, though putting it out in the hot months of the year is not recommended)

I hope they make you smile, and that you enjoy your Sunday. See you again soon.

 

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #143

The leaves are edible

The leaves are edible

So last week’s puzzler was a video, showing a lot of one plant on a bank beside a stream. Were you able to recognize it?

Here’s a clue… perhaps you’ve eaten it! Those plants are RAMPS, an edible plant that has a mild, garlicky flavor that is highly prized among those who collect wild edibles.  Both the green leaves and bulbs are edible. Ramps, also called wild leeks, are native to the forests of eastern North America. As you can see from the video, they are one of the first plants to burst out of the soil in spring, filling the otherwise drab woods with glorious green. They will not last long, turning yellow long before the trees get their first leaves.

They do not last long!

They do not last long!

Have you tried them? Here are a few recipes if you find some in a forest near you.

Rampy Ramp Risotto

Grilled Ramps

Asparagus and Ramp soup with yogurt

and finally, Loaded Vegetable Spring Quiche

If you Google ramps you will find LOTS more recipes. And one more thing–if you do find a patch of ramps, please don’t harvest them all! It’s best to practice sustainable harvesting so the ramps will continue to grow for many years to come. Here are a few pointers on harvesting ramps:

  1. Never take all the plants in a bunch. At most, take half of the leaves, leaving some of the older ones to grow.
  2. If you’re going to harvest the bulbs, do not use a shovel as this unnecessarily disrupts the soil. Instead, use a small soil fork or trowel with a knife. And just like the leaves, do not take them all. Taking all the bulbs is a sure way to end the profusion of ramps in the future in that spot.
  3. Be careful where you step so as to not stomp down everything in your path on the way to get the ramps.
  4. Make sure you have permission if the land is private. Most homeowners do not appreciate someone coming onto their land and digging something up. And if it is in a national park or state land, know the rules before you pick. Different parks have different rules about edible plants and it’s definitely not always legal.

The New York Times wrote an article about over harvesting ramps a few years ago–in some places it has become a problem and is banned.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about ramps! Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you pick them? Do you like them? Use the comment box below!

Here’s the next puzzler.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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