Hunting for Crayfish

I remember very little from childhood, but some of the memories I've retained involve swimming in neighborhood creeks and rivers, and hunting for crayfish in the summer. When I moved to Ann Arbor last year, it was great to see so many canoes and kayaks on the Huron River, but surprising to see so few people swimming in the water. The Huron River Watershed Council has addressed this issue by working with local organizations to put on Huron River events, such as canoe races, group swims, and educational courses. The HRWC has also compiled resources and reports on its website regarding the increased safety of the water. You can also find the seasonal Huron River Report periodical, as well as several other books on activities in the Huron River available at the AADL. Come on in, the water is fine!

For the Birds

As I drove home from work one day I saw a starling get struck by a vehicle. When I noticed that the bird was still alive and struggling to get out of the road...I had to help. After catching the bird I contemplated what to do next while I comforted the bird and marveled at her beautiful iridescent feathers. I remembered once hearing of a place in Washtenaw County to go for help with injured birds, so I drove back to the library to get more information. After some excellent work on behalf of the information desk I had the number for the Bird Center of Washtenaw County. What a relief when the bird center staff answered my call and quickly directed me to their location near central campus. They met me at the door and took the bird into care. There is no fee for the service but donations are welcome. We left our number with the center and asked them to keep us updated. Although the starling didn't make it, I was glad that her last hours were in a warm comfortable place with good care and no pain. What a good thing the bird center is! Although some folks might be happy about one less starling.

Pick a Park, Adopt-A-Park

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You know you've got a favorite park in Ann Arbor. Now's your chance to show the park you care, you really, really care. Wear your scruffies and come to the Adopt-A-Park Kickoff this Saturday, May 17, 9 a.m. to noon. Help plant, mulch, clean and weed and your fav park will be eternally grateful and beautifully green. For more info visit the Adopt-A-Park website.

Star Dreams: Exploring the Mystery of Crop Circles

Crop circle

Huge, sweeping patterns of intricate, geometric shapes appear in fields of standing wheat and barley over night. No tracks appear leading to the shapes. The crop circles are perfectly formed - with mathematical precision and utilizing ancient symbols - they have created a following of “croppies” all over the world. Star Dreams investigates the phenomenon, interviewing true believers (in the other-worldly artists) and researchers, and providing dozens of aerial shots of the most breath-taking circles. Though you may argue about how they get here, there is no doubt they are mysterious and beautiful. Hundreds of circles appear in England every summer and you can track each one as it is reported. For more on crop circles try Secrets in the Fields: The Science and Mysticism of Crop Circles.

How do you make a rat laugh?

By tickling it, of course!

According to neuroscientist Dr. Jaak Panksepp, laughter isn’t just a human phenomenon - rats laugh, too.

Hear ticklish rats laughing and an interview with Panksepp on the “Laughter” episode of NPR’s Radio Lab.

Intrigued by animal emotions? Read the Psychology Today article about Panksepp’s research and his critics in our General Reference Center Gold database. Library cardholders can read the article from home.

Capturing the splendor

Today, February 20th, is the birthday of celebrated nature photographer, Ansel Adams who was born in San Francisco in 1902. Adams is best known for his black and white landscape photographs of national parks, especially Yosemite and the Sierras. As a boy, he wanted to become a concert pianist but when he was 14, his parents gave him a Brownie Kodak camera. That summer he went to Yosemite and returned every year to photogragh it until he was 81. He became the photographer for the Sierra Club in 1922. Adams said, "A good photograph is knowing where to stand."

Lake Michigan Dunescapes at Malletts Creek

Lake Michigan – 307 miles long, 118 miles at its widest point, home to the world’s largest freshwater dunes. Bottom line, a whole lot to feast your eyes on! And feast you will viewing Malletts Creek newest exhibit of black and white photos of the rugged, windswept beauty of the Lake Michigan dunes by Gale Nobes. This stunning exhibit will be up now to March 14.

If the exhibit leaves you thirsting for more spectacular Lake Michigan views, check out Ed Wargin’s Lake Michigan: A Photographic Portfolio. Wargin’s full color photos show you sites from all around this great lake.

A Different View of Wolves

A youth librarian recently recommended Never Cry Wolf a science/adventure/nature/cold weather DVD based on the book by Farley Mowat In this well-done, PG-rated film, an inexperienced biologist is dropped into the Arctic to study wolves, whose habits have been misunderstood. Kids in upper elementary and middle school would probably enjoy watching this film on a winter evening.

What’s A Truax? Well I’m So Glad You Asked, Let Me Tell You!

In Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, an entrepreneur named Once-Ler sees his business grow from a one-room shop to a gigantic factory selling useless Thneeds made from tufts of chopped down Truffula Trees. The titular character, a small creature that speaks for the trees, pleads to Once-Ler to leave the trees alone, but alas and alack, the forest is destroyed and The Lorax leaves. Seuss chillingly bookends the tale in the idyllic forest-cum-wasteland with the now impoverished Once-Ler telling his story to a young man. In rare form, [Seuss, Dr|Seuss] adds a real subtlety to Once-Ler as the now remorseful enemy, and doesn’t pander—does he ever?—to kids with his message. So what’s The Truax? Why it’s the hardwood flooring industry’s delightful rebuttal.

Not just another cute polar bear

For a heart-warming, environmentally concerned book, try Knut: How one little polar bear captivated the world, told by Isabella, Juliana, and Craig Hatkoff, and Gerald R. Uhlich, with photographs by Zoo Berlin. The story of how Knut is rejected by his mother bear and raised by a human is well told and touching, and I also liked the tie-in at the end with polar bears and global warming. This worthy book is from some of the same people who brought us Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship about a baby hippo and a giant tortoise. I love these books -- educational (not boring), touching (not saccharine) and nurturing (not overwhelming) for young hearts and minds.

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