Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bird Rescue

Photo by Paul Winter

Princeton Landing News reader and birding enthusiast Paul Winter has reported a couple of close encounters with birds at his home this past month. His most recent was with the cardinal pictured above, which flew into one of the windows at the Winter residence. Paul writes:

"Yesterday I heard a 'thud' at one of my windows — not a good sign. Upon investigation I didn't see a bird, but I decided the thud was too loud to dismiss. Looking further I spotted a male cardinal on the ground. Fortunately, he was upright, but his wings were hanging down instead of being neatly tucked in. It was getting dark, and with all the cats in the area I didn't want to leave him. I picked him up and right away he perched on my finger. He seemed weak and a little dazed, so I put him on my deck table to recover.

"After about 15 minutes he still hadn't moved, and it was getting colder. I placed him in a little bowl with some seed, then slowly and carefully relocated him to the top of our grill, in a corner next to the house. I went off to gather items that might help keep him warm until morning. When I checked on him later, he jumped off the grill, then the deck, and ran into the bushes! We were very glad. It looked like he hadn't injured his wings after all because he used both of them to slow his fall. He hopped away briskly, still too weak to fly, but he looked like he was definitely coming around."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nature Guide: Spring Bulbs

After this year's harsh winter, spring couldn't come soon enough. With warmer weather and longer days, the parks and trails in our area are coming back to life. Early-blooming bulbs are one of the first things to see. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer points out a few species that are blossoming now.

"Among the earliest bulbs to bloom is Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae), a low-growing plant with grasslike leaves. It has attractive star-shaped flowers that are blue or violet-blue with white centers. They face upwards, unlike many other early spring bloomers. Flowers appear as the last snow melts and can survive for two weeks or more. Although these plants can be found growing wild in the woods, they are actually native to western Turkey. They weren't imported here until the end of the 19th century, but they have adapted well to our area.

"Another bulb that blooms early is the crocus. A member of the Iris family, there are more than 80 species of the genus Crocus. The most familiar is the Snow Crocus (Crocus chrysanthus), which will bloom while snow is still on the ground. Each plant produces up to four cup-shaped blossoms, which consist of six oval or pointed petals. Colors range from white and bright yellow to purple and blue. Some have touches of bronze or are bicolored, and flowers can last up to four weeks. The name crocus derives from the Latin word crocatus, meaning saffron yellow. The spice saffron is obtained from the stamens of Crocus sativus, a species native to Southwest Asia.

"Daffodils are another sure sign of spring. Their brightly colored blossoms have a corona in the center that looks like a trumpet surrounded by a star-shaped ring of petals. Daffodils belong to the genus Narcissus and are related to Jonquils and White Narcissi. There are at least 50 species of daffodils and more than 13,000 hybrids. Most wild daffodils are yellow, but cultivated varieties range from white-and-yellow, yellow-and-orange and white-and-orange to pink and lime green. Their ancestors come from the coastal areas of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The earliest recorded mention of daffodils dates back to around 300 BC."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Passover

Technical Problem

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Giotto di Bondone
Entry into Jerusalem
Scenes from the Life of Christ, 1304-1306
Arena Chapel, Padua, Italy

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Washington Road — 3:05 pm

Monday, March 22, 2010

Nature Guide: Tree Fungi

The harsh winter weather damaged many trees and shrubs along our trails. Now one group of organisms is ready to take advantage of the situation: fungi. Visible as mushrooms, puffballs and brackets, fungi thrive on leaf litter and decomposing tree bark, absorbing nutrients and turning wood into humus and soil. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us about the fungi shown in the slideshow below.

"Members of the fungi kingdom, which includes yeasts, molds and even truffles, may look like plants but are actually more closely related to animals. They lack chlorophyll and therefore cannot photosynthesize. Instead they depend on organic material such as leaves and wood to provide the food they need to survive.

"The species we are most likely to notice this time of year are bracket fungi (Polyporaceae). Also known as shelf or pore fungi, they grow horizontally out of trees or logs in semicircular shapes that look like shelving. Colors range from browns and whites to bright orange, red and deep mahogany.

"Most species are hard or leathery, which makes them very resilient. They can live for years and some species develop beautiful multicolored circles of color that are actually annual growth rings. A bracket fungi can range in size from a single row to dozens of rows that can weigh several hundred pounds.

"The underside of a bracket fungi is lined with rounded pores. These produce billions of tiny, dust-like spores that depend on the wind, rain or a passing animal to transport them to a new location. Only a tiny percentage of the spores survive to produce new fungi."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Signs of Spring

Turtles sunning on Lake Carnegie

A male and female Mallard on the D&R Canal

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome Spring

An American Robin defending its turf — one of the first signs of spring

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day

Saul Church, also known as St. Patrick's Memorial Church, is in the small village of Saul in County Down, two miles outside Downpatrick, in Northern Ireland. The church was built to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of Saint Patrick's first church in Ireland. The foundation stone records that it is on the site given to Saint Patrick in AD 432.
The slideshow below displays the work of a photographer in Northern Ireland, whose beautiful photographs of Saul Church show us what Saint Patrick's Day is really all about.

Photos: Ardfern

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Storm Damage

The damage done by this winter's storms shows the need to cull and prune overgrown and aging trees in Princeton Landing. This weekend in particular we lost many trees to high winds and rain, causing much damage and expense. An overgrown landscape not only looks bad but is dangerous and costly too.

Thank you to Signature property manager Sal Pirrera for his immediate response to the storm.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Photo: The Einstein Museum in the Historisches Museum Bern

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Ahead

Remember to move your clocks ahead one hour tonight or tomorrow morning. Daylight saving time begins at 2:00 am on Sunday, March 14.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Attention Parents: Event at Terhune Orchards

On Tuesday, March 16, at 10:00 am, Terhune Orchards will host the third and final session of their Read & Explore Program. The topic of this session is Getting Ready For Spring. A story will be read and each child will plant seeds to take home.

Read & Explore is Terhune Orchard's winter education series with sessions in January, February and March. The program combines reading stories and doing related craft activities. Parents/guardians and young children (ages preschool to 8 years) are welcome. Each session lasts about one hour and costs $5.00 per participating child, which includes the material for the activity. Parents should call ahead to reserve a space. The number is 609-924-2310. Check-in is at the farm store. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Road in Princeton.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Not Just for Birds Anymore

Because so many of our readers contact us to say how much they enjoy our nature posts, our Nature Guide and I are always on the lookout for stories involving the natural world — even when they're as nutty as this one. When we heard about an advertiser on Glenn Beck's Fox News program, we couldn't resist bringing it to the attention of our readers. The company is called Survival Seed Bank and it peddles seeds that can be used to grow a "crisis garden" if we should experience an "economic meltdown."

The commercial, which aired on Beck's March 8 show, included a pitchman who suggested that should the American government collapse "securing a source of food for your family is the single most important thing you can do." Their website goes on to say, "If you don't have the ability to grow your own food next year, your life may be in danger."

As for where to store your Survival Seed, the company suggests it "can be buried to avoid confiscation." For the less paranoid, perhaps you can store the seed in the single bird feeder that is allowed under Princeton Landing's Third Amendment to Policy Resolution No. 22.

The video from Media Matters is below. It's not a skit from "Saturday Night Live," honest.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sign of Spring

At Kate Spade, people had already started to take the pinwheels . . . but it still looked like spring.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nature Guide: Sharp-shinned Hawk

Photo: Dave Herr, USDA Forest Service

You may see Sharp-shinned Hawks flying swiftly through the woods in our area. Referred to as "sharpies," they are the smallest hawks in North America. The kestrel, or sparrow hawk, is smaller, but the name is misleading because it's actually a falcon. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us about sharpies and how to identify them.

"A Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) is about the size of a pigeon you might see on a city street. Its wings are short and rounded and its long tail has a square tip. An adult's back and wings are blue-gray, and its chest is marked by reddish bars. Females can be nearly twice the weight of a male and are browner on their back. The tail of both sexes has black and gray bands. Sharp-shinned refers to the exposed lower portion (or shin) on this bird's long legs.

"Sharpies are generally found in or near thick stands of trees, especially oaks. They specialize in hunting small songbirds such as sparrows and robins. Sharpies are agile fliers, able to pursue their prey through dense vegetation. They may use trees or even man-made structures to conceal their stealthy approach, then capture their prey after a short chase. They have also adapted to human habits and are often regular visitors at bird feeders, looking for birds not seed.

"Sharpies can be seen throughout the day, often close to the treetops in the morning and soaring higher later on. When they fly, sharpies typically make several quick wingbeats and then glide a short distance. But in spring, both males and females may engage in a territorial display known as 'slow flight.' The birds fly with slow, exaggerated wingbeats while exposing the white underside of their tail. Both sexes may give a 'kik-kik-kik' call during these flights.

"The number of Sharp-shinned Hawks declined following the introduction of DDT in the mid-1940's but rebounded after DDT was banned in 1972. Today large numbers of sharpies can be observed during their fall migration. Over 11,000 were counted on one day in October at Cape May Point, New Jersey. However, we can see sharpies throughout the year."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Attention Parents: Albert Einstein's Birthday

On Sunday, March 14, the Historical Society of Princeton will host its annual birthday bash celebrating the life of Princeton's famous former resident, Albert Einstein. Children (ages 6 and above) will learn about Einstein's many contributions to science and to the world. They will also listen to his favorite music and examine his treasured possessions. And yes—there will be cake!

The Historical Society will hold two sessions. The first is from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. The second session is from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. The cost is $5 per child; $4 for Historical Society of Princeton members. Space is limited, so registration for the event is recommended. The phone number is 609-921-6748, extension 100. You may also email
Photo by Orren Jack Turner