Sunday, May 19, 2013

Look! Turtles!

     Over the last year I have spent nearly every day at Johns Hopkins hospital with my husband. There are gardens and courtyards on the grounds, but as you can imagine, and for good reason, it's a pretty sterile place. For example, where we hang out there is a strict "No Fresh Flowers, Plants, or Fruits" policy.
     Walking toward the cafeteria last week I was pleasantly surprised to see this:

     I did look. There were turtles! 

     A whole village of turtles, it seemed, were mostly living under plywood house-like structures. (I think I counted eighteen.)
     The accompanying sign sort of explained that the turtles (farmed red-eared slider turtles) were at the hospital to participate in the 82nd annual Turtle Derby. And we could take "chances" on them. I was disappointed that more turtle information was not provided, either on the poster or online, especially since this is obviously a children's hospital fundraising event. Curious children will inevitably ask:
     "What kind of turtles are they?"
     "How old are they?"
     "Where did they come from?"
     "What do they eat?"
     "Why are they in the water?"
     "Why are they so slow?"
     "How long can they hold their breath?"
     "Can I touch one?"
     "Can I have one?!"
     "Can we visit them when they're gone?" 
The childrens' parents/caregivers should be given the resources to answer these questions. But seeing "Look! Turtles!" on the window when you walk by is still great.
     I stood at the window one day last week, watching peopleyoung and old, sick and wellapproach the window, look down, and smile at the discovery of seeing large, slow, sleepy, ancient looking reptiles in the middle of the hospital. That was great to see, too.
     I might just have to check out the derby this year.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spring 2013 Robin's nest wrap up

Four Robin chicks hatched this spring and fledged this week.

On Monday the chicks were so big that they were spilling out of their cereal bowl-sized nest.

By Tuesday morning the first chick had left.
Later that day the remaining chicks hopped out of the nest. One after another they flapped their wings, called out, and then glided to cover somewhere in our shed.
The dogs began to take notice and stopped chasing rabbits in favor of the easier targets.

We heard the chicks calling from nearby shrubs throughout the day--momentarily safe.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Robins return

     A pair of American Robins that nested successfully in our yard last year has returned. The female laid four eggs in mid-April this year. The eggs hatched between April 30th and May 1st.
One of the parents sitting on the nest.

The four chicks this morning  eight days old.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Pete's favorite food

     The Brood II cicadas will emerge this summer after living underground for seventeen years. I am excited partly because Pete, our dog, loves to eat cicadas. I'll let you know if he eats the Brood II's with the same voracity that he has eaten past cicada varieties. Either way, Pete is going to have a good summer.