Friend and Naturalist's Notebook contributor LJ in Portland, Ore., sent us the remarkable photo above. She took it in her backyard and yes, that is a chickadee pecking its way into a tree. Here's LJ's description:
"I've had the pair all winter and four days ago noticed them trading turns with exploratory excavating on the cherry. Sure enough they started making a serious dent in a large limbed spot. After three days of taking turns excavating they've created a cavity that is as long as my index finger. They've picked a super location: running water in the water feature, native plants and bamboo-filled habitat plus a black oil seed feeder. There are bugs galore around the water and the bamboo. Chickadee heaven. I will continue to monitor the progress of the cavity. I'll also be putting out [my dog's] fur. Chickadees line their nest cavities with hair."
We see chickadees every day (they're Maine's state bird), but I had no idea that they nested this way. Do any of you have any unusual bird nesting photos or stories to share?
Our Canine Taste Tester The European Union recently banned the sale of cosmetics containing ingredients that have been tested on animals. That humane decision is in line with our own philosophy: Animals should be involved only in testing products that they actually like.
And so we called upon Bentley.
Nine Full Lives One last cat photo. I'm always intrigued by the wide range in the life expectancy of animals, and I saw a news story that called the cat below—who'd been the runt of a litter—the oldest cat in England. Wadsworth (as in Longfellow) is a healthy 27-year-old.
I looked it up, and according to Guinness, the oldest cat on record was a female named Creme Puff, who died in 2005 at age 38 years and three days. Creme Puff lived in Austin, Texas, and her longevity has been attributed by some to a rather human-sounding diet that included bacon and eggs, asparagus and broccoli.
Answer to the Last Puzzler 1) Malacology is the study of mollusks.
2) The Acadia National Park co-founder honored by the plaque was former Harvard president Charles Eliot.
Today's Puzzler If the Habanero peppers below (also seen at the Belfast Co-op) rate as 200,000 heat units on the Scoville scale of tongue incineration, what is the heat rating of Tabasco sauce?
a) 150-200 heat units b) 3,500-8,000 heat units c) 425,000-450,000 heat units