Category Archives: animals

Swan Song

I spent last week in a part of Minnesota with which I was quite unfamiliar.  My friend lives in Howard Lake, and we spent our time pre and post surgery there and in the environs around Hutchinson, Cokato, Waconia, and Winsted.  There is an arm of Howard Lake behind my friend’s apartment, and I noticed a pair of swans there amongst a flock of Canada Geese.  I also noticed many swans in other ponds around the area and flying around over head, and I thought “Where did all these swans come from?” I hope this is an indication of improving environmental health. I don’t remember swans anywhere in Minnesota before. They are gorgeous, although I understand they are nasty and aggressive.  I saw one once in Stratford, Ontario, taking a nap, standing up on one leg in the middle of a sidewalk right along the river. It was huge, and had its head tucked under its wing.

Sibelius has written some lovely music inspired by swans. Check out his 5th symphony as well as the Swan of Tuonela. I think Saint-Saen’s cello piece is beautiful, but doesn’t reflect their aggressiveness.

What are your favorite birds? Have any swan stories?

Let’s Celebrate

Photo credit:  Jennifer Chen

A couple of month ago I had a doughnut ice cream sandwich for breakfast.  It was PJ’s fault – she had announced the day before that it was going to be National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.  It was a sweet treat that was a bit too sweet even for me and has not been repeated.

Of course the very next day was Groundhog’s Day and just a couple weeks later, I saw some silly bit on the internet that February 17 was Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I decided to do some checking and

    • National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (first Saturday in February)
    • Seuss Day (also called National Read Across America Day) – March 2
    • Pi Day – March 14
    • Star Wars Day – May 4
    • National Take Your Dog to Work Day – June 22
    • National Hammock Day – July 22
    • National Black Dog Day – October 1
    • Bathtub Party Day – December 5

There is actually a National Day calendar online and from a quick glance, there is something to celebrate every single day of the year, even February 29.  But there are plenty of things left to put on the calendar.  I looked and didn’t see Dust Bunny Appreciation Day nor did I see a National Day of Reading in Bed.  Sorely needed.

Any other days we need to celebrate?

Birth Announcement

The Birch Aquarium is throwing a baby shower!  They have just welcome two very rare babies – weedy sea dragons.  Apparently sea dragons  are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and the aquarium has been trying for years.

Sea dragons, as you can see, look like little flotsams of seaweed and are actually distant cousins to the seahorse.  The Birch actually acquired their first sea dragons after years of successful work with other sea horse varieties.  In the wild, most sea dragon species call the waters of Australia home.

The two new additions are about an inch long and will feed primarily on shrimp, like their parents.  At this point, it is now known the gender of the babies; according to the Birch, they “likely won’t know until they reach sexual maturity in a few years. “This bit of sea dragon news caught my eye because we have sea dragons at the Minnesota Zoo; we’ve had them for years, so I didn’t realize they were rare.  In fact, while YA is joyfully trailing her hands in the shark/ray pool (which she can do for a LONG time), I almost always wander over to watch the sea dragons.  Their alcove is kept dark and they are mesmerizing as they float through their habitat, their “weeds” floating gracefully around them.

Do you have a favorite exotic animal?