November 11, 2014

11 Unique Facts About Turkeys



Turkeys in East Weymouth, Mass.

Turkeys in East Weymouth, Mass.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Its traditional dinner is centered around turkey.

How well do you know about turkey? Or the wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo?

Each year the current president gives two turkeys a pardon. Allegedly, the first presidential pardon was given by Harry Truman in 1947—to a turkey—spurring an annual tradition of allowing two turkeys (one for the president, the other for the vice president) to be spared each Thanksgiving. Some of these pardoned turkeys have gone to Frying Pan Farm Park in northern Virginia. More recently they have gone to Washington’s Mount Vernon.*****

Turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that are highly social. They create lasting social bonds with each other and are very affectionate; rather similar to dogs.****

America’s turkeys almost went extinct in 1930 from loss of forest habitat and overhunting.  Recovery efforts over 80 years have succeeded. Now an estimated 7 million wild turkeys in North and Central America.*****

I’ve prepared a quiz for you, 10 questions with an 11th bonus question. Use it during your Thanksgiving festivities. Let me know how well you and your family/friends do.


  1. A young poult (baby turkey) is up, out of the nest and walking around searching for food within _______ hours. It is one of up to _____ siblings. Can a hen (female turkey) lay a fertilized egg without mating?
  2. Which state is tops in turkey production?
  3. Name the two United States towns named Turkey. Also name the town in Pennsylvania’s Somerset county which includes the word Turkey.
  4. How many feathers does a turkey have at maturity?
  5. What do the turkey and the octopus have in common?
  6. Besides feather color, how can you determine a turkey’s gender?
  7. What disease do turkeys share with the humans who dine on them?
  8. How did the turkey get its name?
  9. How fast can turkeys run?
  10. How many distinct vocalizations do you hear from turkeys, in addition to the male’s distinctive gobble which can be heard a mile away?****


How much turkey did the typical American devour in 2009? What is the average weight of the turkey on the Thanksgiving table? How much did the heaviest turkey ever raised weigh?

To learn the answers click on MORE


November 6, 2014

The Owl



 Bo Brocious, guest poet

The January 5, 2015, WordPress prompt is Daring DoTell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. How did you prevail?

As I groggily aroused myself from my mid-afternoon siesta my husband Monte rushed into the family room, retrieved his garden-soiled sneakers, and quickly slipped them on his feet.

 “There’s a bird caught in the deer netting (around our garden),” he said, grabbing a pair of scissors. The grogginess disappeared with my adrenalin rush. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my camera, and raced to the garden. Sure enough, there was a bird in the netting. A big bird.

“It’s an owl,” Monte said, hesitatingly moving towards it to examine the situation. The black netting was wrapped around the bird’s feet tightly enough that Monte might need a surgeon’s skill to cut it without injuring the bird. He poked it gently with the handle of the umbrella he’d grabbed on the way to the garden.

091107 IMG_9023Ee

Still, he had to try. While using an umbrella handle to stabilize the owl he gingerly began snipping at the netting with pink-handled scissors. The owl, equally intimidated by us as we were of it, kept trying to reach its beak to where it could nip Monte’s hands.

My task was easier. Since I wasn’t going to risk the bird’s beak I stood back, waiting to offer Monte medical attention if it were necessary. And I studied the owl, wondering if it was one of the screech owls I kept hearing in the wee hours of the night—a noise that, when I initially heard it, made me want to call 911 to rescue whatever woman was being beaten. Then my trigger finger took hold as I attempted to shoot a prize winning photograph, which was difficult as I was repeatedly startled by the owl’s wildly flapping wings.

“Calm down,” I said—as if the owl could understand. However, it looked at me as if to say “what’s happening?” and calmed down somewhat.

After a harrowing ten minutes Monte freed the owl’s feet, but its beak-hold on the netting kept him trapped. It took a few minutes before it realized that if it loosened its grip it could free itself to leave. Standing back we watched it fly few feet. Its lift wasn’t high enough so it flew into the netting on the opposite side of the garden. We thought we would have to free it again, but this time, with a little trouble, it cleared the netting and flew into a tree and rested for a moment.

“It’s probably pretty exhausted,” Monte said as it opened its wings, gathered steam, and rose to become hidden by the trees.

When Bo Brocius read about this owl experience in the article It’s Been an Animal Day she responded by (more…)

December 22, 2013

Turtle Doves (2nd Day of Christmas)



Hugs for Fran and Jim


  On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree
Two turtle doves…


A couple of years ago I was in Buffalo, New York, during the Christmas season. While at the home of my (Kensington) high school friend, Pat, I examined the ornaments on her tree. I was taken aback when I recognized that numerous ornaments were familiar—they were ones I’d sent her through the years.

This often happens, as our family Christmas card has, for 42 years, been a tree ornament. My sister Sally has a tree set aside to display our ornaments.

One goal on my “bucket list” is to complete one ornament representing each of the gifts listed in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Because the ornaments are interspersed with other timely themes, I have many to do.

Couldn't use photo of baby doves

Couldn’t use flash…nighttime…best photo of baby doves

In June my friend watched doves nesting in a planter hung on her porch. I was fortunate to see the baby birds shortly after they hatched and the day before they left the nest. It was even more fortunate that I photographed the latter.

Ready...set...not yet...

Ready…set…not yet…

The picture of two now-adult (or late adolescent?) doves provided the theme for this year’s ornament—On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves… In the musical piece the doves represent (more…)

November 16, 2013

Osprey and Seagull Photos



Hug for Fran



Osprey pictures taken in St. Lawrence County, New York.

First osprey:



Second osprey:


June 30, 2013

About the Eagle on the National Seal





Madame paused as a pair of bald eagles soared in the sky, their outstretched wings enhanced by their white-capped heads. They swirled and swooped through the air, flying high above her and low beneath her.

“They advance like a great ship cleaving to the swells and thrusting aside the smaller waves,” noted Madame.

“The Indians say that the eagle is the only bird that flies so high it can see and watch over people. That characteristic enables it to act as a liaison between the people and the Creator,” said the guide.

“Their wings seem to embrace the air in their bold flight…I wonder how wide their wingspan is,” said Madame.

“It can stretch up to eight feet…Eagles are fascinating. They can tell you when a storm is approaching long before it breaks. They fly to a high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, they set their wings so that the wind will pick them up and lift them above the storm, where they will soar while the storm rages beneath them.”

Madame imagined herself soaring with the eagles, high above the storms of her life…. excerpted from my novel-under-construction, Intertwined Love.

Madame and Monsieur, French émigrés,viewed the American bald eagles from the top of Schoodic Mountain in Hancock County, Maine, in mid-October, 1791. Excerpted from my novel-under-construction, Intertwined Love

The eagle received its initial, unofficial, recognition on June 20, 1782, when the Great Seal of the United States was adopted.

As majestic as Madame and Monsieur found the American bald eagle not everyone in their time agreed. Four kinds of birds were suggested in preliminary Great Seal designs: a two-headed eagle, a (more…)

July 17, 2012

The Humming Bird Said: I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up



Co-written With Monte W. Holland

My husband Monte and I sit on our patio on summer mornings, enjoying coffee, breakfast, the newspaper—and the birds. The other day Monte was impressed to see a red-breasted hummingbird at the red-liquid filled bird feeder. We know they are there when we hear the hum from their rapidly beating wings.

Tennesseean Gary Dowdy and his wife also enjoy watching humming birds at their bird feeders, watching them flutter and circle, feed on the nectar, and chase each other. We marvel at their beauty, their tiny wings, and their ability to hover in midair, Dowdy said, leading into the following story he shared on the Upperroom online devotion site1:

One day after I heard a thud against the patio door, I saw a hummingbird on the ground. I picked it up and discovered that the small creature was stunned but still alive. For the next 15 minutes I held the little hummingbird in the palm of my hand. I stroked its feathers and talked gently to it until it regained its ability to fly. When I told my wife of my experience, she said it was like having the power of God in my hands.1

Monte decided to respond to Dowdy’s experience by turning the story around:

Thanks Gary for a great devotional. I want to speak for the hummingbird, from the hummingbird’s perspective:

What just happened? I was (more…)

June 26, 2012

The Great Auk and Dodo Birds



(The great auk was) Rich in protein, chock-full of nutritious fats and oils, and great for baiting fishhooks, this flightless seabird was, well, great…3

A snippet of a news magazine article I discovered stated that the Wabanaki Indians left shell heaps along the shores of Maine’s Downeast region, which the Europeans discovered this area in the 1600s.2


The main character in the first part of my article, Madame Rosalie de Leval, had negotiated with land speculators Gen. Henry Knox and William Duer to purchase acreage in Downeast Maine, on the mainland across from Mount Desert Island. Madame planned on developing a French colony there for her countrymen, refugees from the French Revolution.

Gen. Henry Jackson, Gen. Knox’s agent, accompanied Madame on a voyage from Boston to Frenchman Bay, where she expected to examine the land included in her tentative land sales contract. The sloop anchored at Naskeag Point, from which Mount Desert Island was in view, to pick up a new pilot.

It was likely that the new pilot told her and Gen. Jackson about the nature of the country at Naskeag Point.

“The soil is strong and productive. Signs show that this area was once inhabited by an unknown people. That this is true is shown by antiquities, such as such as arrowheads, stone hatchets and chisels, and pieces of rude pottery found here. Residents have also discovered the bones of moose, deer, bear, and a variety of birds amid the shell heaps that cover acres of land in this area. Among the bones of birds that have been unearthed are those of the extinct (more…)

June 21, 2011

Bird Attack! Dive bombing birds attack humans!



Dive bombing birds attack humans!

     Occasionally while I sit on my patio, a bird will sit on a nearby tree branch and squawk at me. I’ve learned that this means the bird is unhappy with my presence, because the mother is nesting, nurturing her babies. I listen, and tell them I’m harmless, I’m not going to move off my patio, and they’d just better adjust to my presence.

     No bird has ever attacked me.


     As my husband and I traveled to Lakeside, Ohio, on June 13, 2010, I read several days worth of newspapers. There was an article about an angry flock of crows which had the audacity to attack the police in Everett, Washington.

     The angry flock of birds were swooping down and dive-bombing the officers as they walk(ed) to and from their cars. One police officer tried to scare the velociraptors by turning on his siren, to which the birds responded by decorating his car with droppings. Crows, allegedly, have face recognition, and if angered, remember the face. But they apparently cannot distinguish one police officer uniform from another.

     Because the police learned that the birds, which are very protective of their young, are (more…)

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