Author: Orietta Estrada

Wild Wanderings: Living Dinosaurs

Photo | Submitted The connection between birds and dinosaurs was centered around the famous fossil Archaeopteryx, which had, like birds, fused clavicles or a wishbone.

Birds are dinosaurs. They descended from a group of dinosaurs called theropods and,  because they are dinosaurs, birds are also reptiles. Wondering if this is scientifically controversial? It isn’t. Early on when the dinosaur-bird link was being discovered, circa 1860,…

Wildlife in Your Neighborhood: Coyotes

Coyotes are typically most active during twilight, but spring and summer when they’re rearing their young, they hunt more frequently and can be seen throughout the day. Photo | Submitted

Coyotes are a relatively new species for Maryland. Westward expansion, agriculture and land development allowed this midwestern prairie species to increase its geographic range significantly over time. Agriculture and land development require deforestation, which leads to forest fragmentation. Fragmented forests…

Wild Wanderings: Northern Cardinals

Photo | Orietta C. Estrada This healthy northern cardinal is going through its post-breeding molt.

What’s Wrong With This Bird? “What’s wrong with this bird?” is a common question I receive, especially this time of year. What happens is that a regular feeder bird shows up at a birdwatcher’s home and it looks as though…

Wild Wanderings: Turtle Crossing

Photo | Orietta C. Estrada This endangered spotted turtle was found injured in a roadway and taken to Second Chance Wildlife Center in Gaithersburg.

Have you ever noticed that as the weather warms up turtle traffic increases? That’s because the change in season is marked by longer days that bring turtles out of brumation, their version of hibernation. Once mobile, it appears that there’s…

Wild Wanderings: Foxes in Maryland

Photo | Orietta C. Estrada An important part of our ecosystem, foxes help fight Lyme disease by eating rodents who may be hosts for the infected ticks.

Red foxes are one of two fox species found in Maryland; the other is the gray fox. These small canines, weighing up to 14 pounds, are related to dogs, coyotes and wolves. Their lifespan is short, maxing out at around…

Wild Wanderings: Keeping Bird Diseases at Bay

Photo | Orietta C. Estrada Birds that are suffering from house finch eye disease will most likely die, but you can help prevent the spread of the disease by keeping feeders clean.

Feeding wild birds is a joy, so I keep several feeders around my home. Over the years, I’ve attracted some neat feeder birds: blue-gray gnatcatchers, ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, scarlet tanagers, purple finches, and, more recently, pine siskins. To entice…

Wild Wanderings: Humming Into Spring

Photo | Orietta C. Estrada The ruby-throated hummingbird breeds in Maryland each summer.

There are over 330 different species of hummingbird in the world. We are lucky to have one species that breeds in Maryland each summer—the ruby-throated hummingbird. A hummingbird’s wings beat so fast that they make an audible hum as the…

Wild Wanderings: Divers at Inspiration Lake

Photo | Orietta C. Estrada A rare Red-necked Grebe enjoys a meal on Inspiration Lake.

Six lakes spread across Kentlands and Lakelands. Five of them are lined up next to one another, which makes this area perfect for birding. There’s always something interesting to see here, especially during this time of year because water birds…