Thursday, April 30, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "Z" IS FOR ZOSPEUM THOLUSSUM

Zospeum tholussum, or the Domed Land Snail, lives some 3,000 feet under the ground in caves of the Velebit Mountain Range of Croatia. This land snail does not have eyes because they're unnecessary in the dark caves. They're only 0.08 inches long and move very slowly. They perhaps hitch a ride on other cave animals.


Reference: Weigand AM. 2013. New Zospeum species (Gastropoda, Ellobioidea, Carychiidae) from 980 m depth in the Lukina Jama–Trojama cave system (Velebit Mts., Croatia). Subterranean Biology 11: 45–53

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "Y" IS FOR YELLOW-BILLED KINGFISHER

I like birds and when I ran across this one I knew it was my "Y" bird. The yellow-billed kingfisher lives in the monsoon forests and rain forests of New Guinea and Northern Australia. They eat earthworms, lizards and large insects. Isn't this an adorable bird?



Picture of the Yellow-billed Kingfisher has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike.
Original source: markaharper1
Author: markaharper1

Kingfishers dive into the water to bathe. They then fly to a perch where they preen and dry their feathers in the sunlight. Some will even clean their heads using their wings. They scrape their bills back and forth on a branch to keep them in good condition.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "X" IS FOR XANTUS' S HUMMINGBIRD

There are very few animals that start with the letter X, but I found one of my favorites: a hummingbird.
Xantus's Hummingbirds live year round in the mountainous areas of Baja California. They've also been sighted as far north as British Columbia. They have a broad red bill with a black tip that makes them easily identified.

Photo from Wikipedia
 
It's a medium sized bird, 8-9 cm long and weighs about 3-4 grams. The bird was named after John Xantus de Vesey, a Hungarian zoologist.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "W" IS FOR WHITE-TAILED DEER

White-tailed deer are the smallest members of the North American deer family. They are found from Southern Canada to South America. Only the male deer (buck) grow antlers. White-tailed deer are herbivores and come out mostly at dusk and dawn to feed. The female (doe) has one to three fawns, usually in May or June. I think the reason I'm not seeing many does now is because they either have new babies or soon will have. Since bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes like to dine on deer, especially the young, white-tails use their speed to escape them. If you've ever watched one sail over a fence, it's amazing. They can leap as high as 10 feet and as far as 30 feet in one leap. Yep, I've seen them do it.

Here are some photos I've taken. The darker ones are from a night time motion camera that no longer works.
 
You can see his antlers here. This is a young buck.
 
Here you can see a little about the tail. When they run, they hold the tail up and it's like a white flag.
I think of these animals as "my" deer, but they really belong to no one.
 
 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "V" IS FOR VARIABLE FLYING FOX

The Island orVariable Flying Fox is a medium sized fruit bat. They have a wingspan of about 4 ft. and weigh around 1.5 lbs. There are 16 subspecies and they are found in the Andaman and Maldives Islands; New Guinea through Indonesia to Vietnam and Thailand, and adjacent islands; Philippines. Solomon Islands - Learn more at: http://lubee.org/bats/our-bats/island-flying-fox/

 
 

 
Rare Variable Flying Fox pup twins with mom. Photo credit: S. Mulder, Lubee Bat Conservancy
 
Last year the Lubee Bat Conservancy in Gainesville, Florida welcomed twelve bat pups, including the rare birth of twins by mother Variable Flying Fox "Charisma." This organization is dedicated to conserving "fruit and nectar" bats because these animals are vital to pollination and seed dispersal in many of the world's jungles. The evolutionary origins of bats are a subject of much debate but they are most certainly NOT flying rodents. Once thought to be more closely related to shrews and hedgehogs, recent genetic evidence suggests bats may be more closely related to carnivores like bears, dogs and cats. (Information from http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/03/baby-bat-pups-at-lubee-bat-conservancy.html )

Friday, April 24, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "U" IS FOR UNICORN

Unicorns. Whether you believe they ever existed or are just legend, they are fascinating animals. Unicorns are not found in Greek mythology but in natural history because Greek writers were convinced they were real. They have been associated with royalty and heraldry since the time of the Romans. In the 5th Century A D a passage in the Hebrew Old Testament described an animal that scholars believed was a Unicorn.

Wikipedia
fresco, probably by Domenico Zampieri, c. 1602 (Palazzo Farnese, Rome)
 
It was believed that a Unicorn's strength was in its horn and also that the horn carried magical and healing medicine.  
 
I just finished reading THE SHADOW OF THE UNICORN II: THE DECEPTION, the second book in a series for children by Suzanne de Montigny. Lovely story about Unicorns. So, I believe. Why not? Many animals have become extinct through the years. Unicorns might be one of them.
 
What do you think?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "T" IS FOR TASMANIAN WOLF OR TIGER

The Thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian Wolf or Tiger, a carnivorous marsupial, is considered extinct. The modern thylacine appeared about 4 million years ago. Many examples of thylacine engravings and rock art dating to 1000 BC have been found. Little is known about their behavior or habitat. The last known thylacine to be killed in the wild was shot by a farmer in 1930.

 Photo Wikipedia
 
The last captive thylacine was captured in 1933 and taken to the Hobart Zoo on the Australian Island of Tasmania. It died in 1936 as the result of neglect. It is believed the animal was locked out of its sleeping quarters in freezing temperatures.
 
Photo Wikipedia
Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, 1910
Animal Family at the Zoo.
 
An excellent website to see why these animals became extinct is:
 

 
More neat pictures and information.
 
Happy Reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "S" IS FOR SQUIRREL

Squirrels are members of the Sciuridae family of small to medium-sized rodents, including tree squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. They are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa, and have been introduced to Australia. They have excellent vision and strong claws for grasping and climbing.

This little critter likes the corn I put out for the deer.
 
Squirrels eat nuts, leaves, roots, seeds, and other plants, as well as insects and caterpillars. Oh, yes, the above corn. And bird seed. The picture below.
 
How's this for standing on your head while eating?
 
A quick cute story. Before I started teaching, I substituted some. One day I was with this first-grade class in a second floor classroom. A huge pecan tree grew just outside the windows. The first thing the children told me that morning was they had to feed the squirrels. "Okay," I said. "Feed them."
 
Those little kids knew exactly what to do. They took some pecans from the teacher's desk, opened a window, and put the seed on the window ledge. It was a wide ledge and they didn't have to lean out the window, just stretch out an arm. They closed the window and we sat there and watched as this little squirrel scurried over to the ledge, snatched up a pecan and scampered up the tree to, I suppose, its hiding place.
 
What a fun way to start the day. We should all be as easily pleased as the young.
 




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "R" IS FOR RACCOON

The raccoon is a medium sized mammal native to North America. It looks like it's wearing a mask. Its diet consists of a number of foods: insects, worms, fruits and nuts, also fish, amphibians and bird eggs.

 Raccoons in captivity can live up to 20 years; those in the wild from 1 to 3 years. They like hollow trees and rock crevices for sleeping and their dens. They can carry rabies.

And, let me tell you, they can be mean. One evening, we saw  three raccoons, mama, daddy, and baby raccoon,  on our patio, eating the cat food. So my husband went outside to run them off. I can't remember whether he took a stick or anything, it's been years ago. The mama and baby ran, but daddy stayed back and I think he would have attacked my husband who quickly ducked back into the house. I think the daddy was giving his family time to escape. What do you think?

Happy Reading.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "Q" IS FOR QUARTER HORSE

The American Quarter Horse is an American breed of horse that  sprints short distances. Its name comes from its ability to outrun other horse breeds at a distance of  a quarter mile or less. The American Quarter Horse is well known as a race horse and also performs in rodeos, horse shows, and as a working ranch horse. 
This was my mare, Heavenly Sunrise, and her foal.
She actually was half quarter horse, half thoroughbred.
She won one race at a small track in Oklahoma,1984, but was severely injured (not in the race)
and never lived up to her potential.
 
It broke my heart when we sold her and the foal, but we were getting out of the horse business and sold our other horses, too. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "P" IS FOR PUFFIN

Puffins are seabirds and spend most of their time swimming, diving and eating at sea. They're small seabirds about 10 inches long and live in the ocean from the eastern coast of Canada and the northern United States to the western coast of Europe and northern Russia. They nest in colonies on land.

Photo from Wikipedia Papageitaucher_Fratercula_artica
 
There are four different species of puffin. This is an Atlantic Puffin. They can dive in water up to 200 feet. They're also excellent fliers. And look at that gorgeous bill. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "O" IS FOR OKAPI

When I was searching for an animal for the letter "O" I discovered this beauty. I've never heard of an okapi before. Have you?

The okapi are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa. They are found mostly in the Ituri Rainforest. Because of their markings, the okapi resemble a zebra, but they actually are in the giraffe family.
 
 Photo courtesy of:
Okapia_johnstoni_-Marwell_Wildlife,_Hampshire,_England-8a
 

 
Okapis eat tree leaves and buds, grasses, ferns, fruits, and fungi.
Many of the plants they eat are poisonous to humans.
Okapis are 6 to 8 ft. long (from the head to the base of the tail) and 4.9 to 6.6 ft. tall at the shoulder.They weigh from 440 to 770 lbs. What a lovely animal.

Happy Reading! 
 

 


Thursday, April 16, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "N" IS FOR NUMBAT

Here is a little animal that I've never heard of. Have you?

The numbat is a small, colorful creature between 14 and 18 in long, including the tail. The color varies from soft gray to reddish-brown. A black stripe runs from the tip of the muzzle to the small, round-tipped ears.


These marsupials eat an exclusive diet of termites, up to 20,000 a day. They live in Australia and are on the Endangered List.


And here's a sweet baby numbat.
 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "M" IS FOR MONARCH BUTTERFLY

Butterflies, to me, are one of God's most beautiful creations. We're fortunate enough to live on their flight pattern. Their numbers are decreasing, however, and fewer and fewer fly though these days.

 
I saw this beauty near our pond and took this picture on October 8th, 2007.
 
They migrate from Canada to Mexico. They've never made the journey before but they know which direction to go. If you've never seen a migration, it's awesome. Hundreds of butterflies in the sky. Adult Monarchs are poisonous and the birds know to leave them alone. Most live only a few weeks. The ones born late in the summer fly back to Mexico and stay there until spring. They can live for 8 months.
 
 
This was taken October 12, 2007. Due to high winds that prevented the butterflies from flying south, they hung around longer than usual. They roosted in the trees by our pond. I had fun snapping their picture. Now, we see very few Monarchs.
 
I'm going to plant some milkweed seeds. The female lays her eggs on the milkweed only.
 
To learn more about these lovely butterflies go here:
http://www.nwf.org/wildlife/wildlife-library/invertebrates/monarch-butterfly.aspx
 


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "L" IS FOR LEMUR

The lemur lives on Madagascar, a large island off the southeast coast of Africa. There are about 10 species of lemur, with nearly 100 subspecies.

 
This is the picture of a ring tail lemur. Guess where it gets its name?
 
The lemur are declining rapidly because their forests are being cut down leaving them without trees to make their homes in. They're small to medium size animals, about 3.2 to 39 inches tall and weigh 0.06 to 22 lbs. They live in a matriarchal society where the female has more control over the group than the male. They feed and groom each other like other primates.
 

 

Monday, April 13, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "K" IS FOR KOALA

The Koala, also known as the Koala Bear, is actually a marsupial. It lives in the forests of southeastern Australia. It eats only the leaves of the eucalyptus tree.

They can spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping or simply just sit in the trees to conserve energy.

Baby Koala. Isn't he/she adorable.
 
 
Because of their diet that is low in nutrients, the Koala has a very small brain for its body size.
 
The hunting of Koalas has been banned since 1924, when their population was drastically reduced because of hunting them for their soft fur.
 
Have you ever seen a live Koala?


 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "J" - JAGUAR

I found another cat to talk about. Imagine that. For the letter "J" we'll look at the jaguar.

The jaguar is the largest feline on the American continent, with jaguars also being the third biggest cat in the world behind the African lion and the Asian tiger. Jaguars have the strongest bite force of all the cats and like other pantherines they can roar.

The jaguar is the New World's only large cat species. It looks like a leopard, but it has whorled spots with dark centers.

Most jaguars are tan or orange with distinctive black spots, called "rosettes" because they are shaped like roses. Some jaguars are so dark they appear to be spotless, though their markings can be seen on closer inspection.

(I can't see spots in the photo.)
 
Jaguars know how to relax.
 
Average lifespan in the wild: 12 to 15 years
Size: Head and body, 5 to 6 ft; Tail, 27.5 to 36 in
Weight: 100 to 250 lbs
Protection status: Endangered

I don't think I'd want one of these for a pet. How about you?
 
 

Friday, April 10, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - I - INDIAN STAR TORTOISE

The Indian star tortoise is a medium sized tortoise found in the dry and arid forests of central and southern India and also in Sri Lanka. It gets it's name from the star-like patterns on its shell.

 
Isn't that a pretty shell?

 Because of the unusual shell it is a popular pet in the world's exotic pet trade. The design on the shell helps protect it from predators, but it does have to watch out for large birds of prey and snakes, as well as humans that that eat them and capture them for the pet trade. It's a vegetarian, dining mostly on leaves, fruits and berries and flowers.

Do you have a pet tortoise?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "H" HEDGEHOG AND HELPING HERBIE HEDGEHOG


My animal for today is the hedgehog. I had planned to write about horses, until I received this adorable picture book about a hedgehog. Who could resist? First the hedgehog, then the picture book.
Fun facts about this little animal.

The hedgehog got its name because they root through hedges and other undergrowth in search of their favorite food. As it moves through the hedges it emits pig-like grunts: so, the name hedgehog.

They have about 5000 spines. Each spine lasts about a year then drops out and a replacement grows.
 

British author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter, although most famous for her story of Peter Rabbit, also wrote the wonderful tale of a hedgehog named "Mrs. Tiggy-winkle", a matronly washer-woman. A hedgehog's average life span is 4-6 years, however they can live to be 8 years old. It is said they make great pets.


Now, let's meet a cute little Hedgehog in
 
HELPING HERBIE HEDGEHOG
Picture book by Author Melissa Abramovitz.


 

Herbie has places to go and things to do. But he needs some help ‘cause he hasn’t a clue! If you’ll help Herbie decide what’s right and wrong, he’ll be busy and happy the whole day long! Herbie the clueless hedgehog needs help figuring out how to get places and go about his day. Amusing delightful rhymes invite kids to give helpful advice while learning about everyday things in this early chapter book/picture book. Should Herbie ride his bicycle to visit his cousin who lives across the ocean? Will his TV set cook a meal? He really needs these kids’ help! Recommended for ages 2-7.
Purchase links:
 
 
 

 

Author bio:


 
 



 Melissa Abramovitz has been a freelance writer/author for 30 years. She’s the author of hundreds of magazine articles for all age groups, from preschoolers through adults; more than 40 educational books for children and teenagers; numerous poems and short stories; the children’s picture books ABCs of Health and Safety and Helping Herbie Hedgehog; and a book for writers titled A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines. Melissa graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in psychology and is also a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. She is a member of SCBWI and The Working Writer’s Club.
 

 
 
My Review:
HELPING HERBIE HEDGEHOG
Author Melissa Abramovitz
Illustrator Robert Lee Beers
Do you ever have trouble making decisions? Like what to eat, where to shop, or how to dress? Sometimes choices are hard.
In HELPING HERBIE HEDGEHOG, Author Melissa Abramovitz’s new picture book for children two to seven, we meet a young Hedgehog that has all sorts of problems. He wants to travel to a lot of places, but what’s the best way to go: a bike, a ship, roller skates or a rocket ship? What a dilemma for a child. Herbie faces the same problem when he’s hungry and when he’s shopping, as well as other events in his day.
HELPING HERBIE HEDGEHOG is an adorable story that young readers will likely relate to. I can picture the children laughing at Herbie as he struggles to decide what to do. They may even offer him a word of advice. Written in rhyme, the story has a sing-song rhythm and moves along without any dull moments.
The illustrations by Robert Lee Beers are just right for the story. The expressions on Herbie’s face show his puzzlement and his joy. Bright colors give the book a happy tone.
The author and illustrator have created a book that should be in every child’s library. It would make a great addition to pre-school and elementary school libraries too.


 Happy Reading.
 
 
 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "G" IS FOR GIANT PANDA

The Giant Panda is a member of the bear family. The Giant Panda has black fur on ears, eye patches, muzzle, legs and shoulders. The rest of the Panda's fur is white.  Pandas are two to three feet tall at the shoulders when standing on all fours.These bears look like cute animals, but they can be dangerous.
You gotta love a face like this.

Giant Pandas live in forests where  bamboo grows. They eat mostly the stalks and roots of the bamboo. They spend 10 to 16 hours a day eating and need 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo a day. The panda's diet is 99 percent bamboo, but it does eat other food, such as fish, eggs, honey, shrub leaves, yams, oranges and bananas.

For more, go here:


http://www.animalstown.com/animals/g/giant-panda/giant-panda.php

 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - "F" - Fireflies

My animal for today is the Firefly. When I was a kid we used to catch Fireflies, (we called them lightning bugs) and put them on our fingers for rings. They flew away. I haven't seen a Firefly lately.

Fireflies are beetles. To find a mate, they flash each other coded messages. Each species has its own special pattern. How do they get their glow? They have light organs located under their abdomens. They can produce light with almost no heat.

 
For more, check here:
http://www.animalstown.com/animals/f/firefly/firefly.php
 
Have you seen a Firefly lately?

Monday, April 6, 2015

A TO Z - ELK


The animal for today is the elk, AKA the wapiti, a Native American word that means "light-colored deer." Elk are related to deer but are much larger.  A bull (male) elk's antlers may reach 4 feet  above its head, so that the animal stands 9 feet tall.

Bull elk lose their antlers each March, but they start to grow back in May.

When I saw this I thought "Santa's Reindeer."
 
In early summer, elk migrate to high mountain grazing grounds where the cows (females) will give birth. Each cow typically has a single calf, which can stand by the time it is 20 minutes old.

Elk were once found across much of North America but they were killed off and driven to take refuge in more remote locations. Today they live primarily in western North America,  in mountainous landscapes such as Wyoming's National Elk Refuge and Yellowstone National Park. Some eastern U.S. states have reintroduced small elk herds into heavily wooded wilderness areas.

Beautiful animal.
Happy Reading

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - DOGS

A dog, man's best friend they say, and that is true of most dogs. Today, we'll take a brief look at dogs.

At least 12,000 years ago dogs became the first animals to be tamed. Today, about 49 million dogs live as pets in the United States. That's a lot of dogs. Dogs come in all sizes. The smallest is the Chihuahua. They weigh about 4 pounds and are 5 inches tall at the shoulders. The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog at about 34 inches tall. The St. Bernard is the heaviest at as much as 200 pounds. There are about 800 species of dogs in the world.

Do you have a dog in your family. I don't but my son's dog pays me regular visits. He likes my scraps. Son calls him Mooch. I call him Traveler. He's another little stray. We get a lot of those out in the country. Traveler is at least part Blue Heeler, and he just showed up one day. I think he ran away from his home on the road behind us. Anyhow, he adopted our family. He's getting old now. Been around awhile. I have to show you this picture. It was taken in 2009, when we had a really snowy winter, which is unusual for our area.
I had thrown some bread out for the birds, and Traveler climbed the fence to get to it. He loves to eat.

Traveler also made some money for me. I sent a story about him saving my husband from a rattlesnake in the backyard, and CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE DOG published it. Pretty cool.

What's your favorite dog?

Friday, April 3, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - CATS


Egyptians may have first domesticated cats as early as 4,000 years ago. Early Egyptians worshipped a cat goddess and even mummified their beloved pets for their journey to the next world—accompanied by mummified mice! Cultures around the world later adopted cats as their own companions.
 
 I've owned many cats in my lifetime. (Or they owned me.) My Persian cat, Sugar, lived to be age 21.
There are too many species of cats to talk about in a few words, so I'm going to focus on the two in my household today. First, I'd like for you to meet Patches, a calico.
Patches likes turkey sandwich meet, and she picks it up with her paw.

She showed up on the patio one day, chasing insects to eat. She's been here for nine years. Calico is a color of the fur, not a breed. Calico cats are almost always female because the X chromosome determines the color of the cat, and female cats have two X chromosomes, where male cats have one X and one Y.


Next, this little guy is Tiger, my Tabby cat. Again, Tabby is not a breed, but a color of fur.

Tiger also showed up on our patio one hot summer day. I couldn't sent him away, and I'm so glad I kept him. Tiger is an outdoor boy. He loves my son, who is an outdoor boy too. It's a "guy" thing, I guess. I bring Tiger in the house at night because of the coyotes and dogs that run loose.

Tabby cats are very common. They're playful and friendly and like to be around their family. This is true in our household. Patches runs and hides when visitors stop by. Tiger crawls into their laps. He's not an angel all the time. When he wants to go outside, he tells me so in a very strong voice.

Now you've met my fur babies. They say "Hi."
 


Thursday, April 2, 2015

A TO Z CHALLENGE - BIRDS


The bird population fascinates me. This wasn’t always true. When I was a kid, I paid little attention to them. Now, I notice every little thing about them.

There are so many different kinds of birds that I decided to discuss mostly the ones I’m familiar with: hummingbirds, cardinals, roadrunners and kites. But first, here are a few interesting facts.

From World Bok’s Science Desk Reference:

The highest flyer is the Bar-Headed Goose. Some flocks of bar-headed geese fly over the world’s highest mountain range: the Himalaya in Asia, an altitude of more than 25,000 feet.

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest diver. It can swoop in on its prey at more than 200 miles per hour.

The male African Ostrich is the largest bird. It can be as tall as 8 feet and weigh 300 pounds.

The bee hummingbird (one of my favorites) is the smallest bird. It grows to about 2 inches and weighs 1/10 of an ounce.

There are about 8,600 kinds of birds. Birds live in all parts of the world, and all hatch from eggs.

Since the 1600s about 80 kinds of birds have died out.

Many birds do not build a nest. Some lay their eggs on the ground. We’ve had Bobwhite quail in the past and they nest on the ground. Years ago Nighthawks laid their eggs in our pasture where there was bare ground. You had to look carefully because the eggs look a lot like rocks.

Birds are the only animals that have feathers, which are made of keratin, like your hair and fingernails. A birds wings have the same bones as a human arm, but some of the bones in a bird are hollow. This makes most birds light enough to fly.

Let’s take a look at some of my favorites. First, the sweet little hummingbird.

Here's looking at you.
 
 
For several years, I've done the Texas Hummingbird Roundup Backyard Survey for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I watch hummingbirds and report back to Austin the kind we have in our area and other observations I make about them. I feed them and watch. I send a completed survey to them in January. Our area has basically two varieties: Ruby-throated and Black-chinned. Unless I can see the color of the chins I have a hard time telling them apart. The little girl above posed beautifully for me.
 
This is my favorite. Patches had her eye on that bird.
 
I haven't seen a hummer yet this year. They should be in soon. They stay until mid October then fly south. Most of the Ruby-throated and Black-chinned birds fly to Mexico for the winter. I have a lot of pictures, but not enough space to show them.
 
Here's a popular bird that hangs around our area.
 
The Greater Roadrunner can outrace a human, kill a rattlesnake, and survive in the Desert Southwest. Roadrunners are two feet long from their ill to the tip of their tail. In Native American and Mexican Legends, Roadrunners were revered for their courage, strength, and speed. Their footprint shows two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward. This X shape is used by some tribes to ward off evil. 
Remember the Warner Brothers cartoon? "Beep, beep."
 

This cardinal flew into the window. I heard the thud and went outside. He was lying on the patio, unconscious or dead. I didn't know which. I took him in the house and put in in the cat carrier (which is pink.) He lay there for a long time, then all of a sudden he started flapping his wings to escape the carrier. I took him back to the patio, opened the door, and he flew away. I was so happy.
 
 
 

 And last, these are baby Kites.

 
 
There are 5 species of Kites in North America. I'm not sure which these are. Just going by what my husband told me: they were kites. Unfortunately, they did not survive. The summer a few years ago was one of the hottest we'd ever had. I was so sad.
These are just a few of the bird population.
I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of my favorites.
 
Happy Reading.
 
 



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP and A TO Z CHALLENGE

Happy April Fool's Day. This month is hopping. So, take a breath and let's get started.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!



Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!



Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG


Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh is the founder of the IWSG
Alex's awesome co-hosts for the April 1 posting of the IWSG will be Suzanne Furness, Tonja Drecker, Toi Thomas, Rachna Chhabria, Fundy Blue, and Donna Hole!
Today, I'd like to share what Lexa Cain says we all should have on our "To Do" lists.
She is absolutely right. I've added her advice to my list, and I'm going to make these three
items a priority.
 
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF.
ENJOY YOUR LIFE.
BE HAPPY.
 
Wonderful thoughts. Thank you, Lexa.
 
Now, on to the A to Z Challenge.
 
LITTLE ARMORED ONE
My theme for the A to Z Challenge is animals. There are a lot to choose from. I tried to pick the most interesting and the ones I like best. For the letter “A” let’s talk about the Armadillo.
Armadillo is a Spanish word meaning “little armored one.” Armadillos are the only living mammals with bony plates that cover the back, head, legs, and tail.
The armadillo is the state small mammal of Texas.
 
This is an armadillo I saw in our pasture.
 
 
 
 
My son found these babies near our pond.
 
There are 20 varieties of armadillo. All of them live in Latin America, except the nine-banded armadillo. They are related to anteaters and sloths and usually have a pointy or shovel-shaped snout and small eyes. They vary in size and color, from the 6-inch-long (15-centimeter-long), salmon-colored pink fairy armadillo to the 5-foot-long (1.5-meter-long), dark-brown giant armadillos. Others have black, red, gray, or yellowish coloring.
 
Can you roll into a ball?
The three-banded armadillo is the only armadillo able to roll up like this.
The others are covered with too many bony plates.
Sweet babies. No, they're not soft and cuddly.
Did you know that all four young are always the same sex, and are identical quadruplets that developed from the same egg. Breeding occurs in July, but the embryo is in a dormant state until November. Four young are born in a burrow in March.
 
 
Their average life span in captivity is 12 to 15 years.
 
They are found in all but the western Trans-Pecos portion of Texas in a variety of habitats; brush, woods, scrub and grasslands.
Originally native to South America, the armadillo now ranges as far north as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Louisiana. They are not found where the soil is too hard to dig.
Fun Fact:
The nine-banded armadillo is run over by cars so often that it has earned the nickname “Hillbilly Speed Bump.”
 
Here's a little beauty, don't you think?
The pink fairy armadillo, also known as the Pichiciego, is the smallest species of armadillo known.
The pink fairy armadillo generally is between 90-115 mm in length, not counting its tail. It weighs less than a pound. This is the only species of armadillo that has its dorsal shell almost completely separate from its body.
This animal lives in the dry grasslands and sandy plains of central Argentina. When threatened they can bury themselves in a few seconds.
They stay underground  and come out only to feed at night. Usually the female gives birth to one young, whose shell will not become completely hardened until it is fully grown.
The pink fairy armadillo have been listed as Threatened since 1970.
So, you think you want one for a pet? You might check
http://www.ehow.com/about_4572448_armadillos-as-pets.html to see how that would work out.
 
 
They may not be soft and cuddly, but I have a soft spot in my heart for them. I even wrote a picture book about an armadillo family, after I saw those on our land.
 
 
 As one little boy told me at the book store where I was reading to the kids, "Armadillos aren't blue." Kids are so cute, and smart.
Happy Reading!