Welcome to Whispers
As winter's cold weather persists, life becomes a little more difficult for our feathered friends. Here, two male mallards carefully make their way across some frozen water.
Happy New Year and welcome to another issue of Whispers, the newsletter of the Dereila Nature Inn - your cyber nature centre where we celebrate nature and photography every month with trivia, tips and site updates. 

This month marks the beginning of our 4th year online.  As we reflect back on 2009 we realise how much the website has grown.  We are also really pleased with the support we received for our two special photographic celebrations: Earth Day and Autumn.  We look forward to more  events like these in 2010. 

Many thanks to everyone for your encouragement, feedback and support.  We hope that 2010 is a happy and rewarding year for all.
Trivia Time
Here's this month's trivia question: What would you raise if you ran a ranarium?

You'll find the answer at the end of the newsletter.
What's This?
This month we have another little mystery for you to solve.  Do you have any idea what this strange thing is? 

Close-ups In Nature

You'll find the answer below. For more of this type of mystery solving, be sure to visit our pages of Close-ups in Nature.
New Features at the Inn
All of December's additions to the Inn featured birds. Click on the images below to visit the pages.
Birds of North America Crosswords
Try your hand at these two crosswords which use photographs as clues.

Crossword #1 - Click to visit.  Crossword #2 - Click to visit.
Walking in the Wild - The Birds
We've added six more birds to this series featuring photos and facts.  This brings the total to 20.
Anna's Hummingbird - Click to visit.  America Robin - Click to visit.  Downy Woodpecker - Click to visit.

Clark's Nutcracker - Click to visit.  American Wigeon - Click to visit,  Red Crossbill - Click to visit

To see the latest postings at the Inn as they are added visit the news and updates page.
Contributed by...
As a community of nature enthusiasts we invite you to submit nature photographs to this part of our monthly newsletter.  Here are this month's contributions.

Contributed image 1

 This beautiful image of a European Kingfisher was submitted by
Eileen in Scotland.

Contributed Image 2 

 Frequent contributer John Frye from Nashville, TN
sent in these Glade Mushrooms.

 Contributed Image 

John also submitted this photograph of Autumn Onions and Panic Grass.

Many thanks to Eileen and John for taking the time to send in these
great pictures of nature.

 If you would like to see your nature images in our members' section,
simply send us an e-mail.

Monthly Selections 
Each month we select a bug, wildflower and bird of the month. Here are this month's choices: Bug - Stink Bug; Wildflower - Hooker's Onion; Bird - Western Sandpiper.

Insect of the Month  Flower of the Month  Bird of the Month
Simply click on the images to visit the pages.
You can also check out the archives as they're just a click away:

Wildflower Archives | Bug Archives | Bird Archives

The Wandering Image

Wandering Image

This beautiful  Barred Owl was spotted one recent night while it was out hunting. 

To see more marvelous mammals, check out our At-A-Glance Guide to Mammals.
Snippets in Nature ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Snippets in Nature image

While many of us are dealing with snowy days and icy winds, this month's snippet offers a little bit of sunshine and warmth.  The Sonoran Desert of Arizona is a rugged, hostile place but contains an extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna.
Caption This! 
This month's photograph of a resting moose is just begging for a funny caption.  We've given you a couple of ideas but hopefully you can come up with something much better. 

Caption needed!

Number one: "I just love playing hide and seek!  They'll never find me down here."
Number two: "Just wait 'till all those pretty girls come by!"

If you have any suggestions for additional funny captions, please, send us an e-mail.
We'd love to hear from you and add your caption to our collection.

You can visit the rest of the collections at the Inn:
The Mammals | The Birds | The Insects
Behind the Name 
In this section we examine the meanings behind scientific names.

Behind the Name image

This unusual looking plant is the Common Sundew Plant, Drosera rotundifolia. "Drosera" comes from the Greek word "droseros" which means watery or dewy.  The second part of the name is derived from the Latin word "rotundus," meaning round and "folia," (leaf) which creates "roundleaf." 
Joke of the Month ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A man heard knocking on his door, but when he opened it no one was there. He looked all around and finally saw a little brown snail sitting on the doormat. He picked up the snail and threw it across the street into a field.
A month later, he again heard knocking on his door. He opened it but no one was there. He looked all around and he finally saw the little brown snail on the doormat.
The snail said, "Why the heck did you do that?"

Joke of the Month

 "Very funny, but it was a long walk back!"
Notes from Around the Inn
Tip from the Inn
If you have easy access to a forest at this time of the year, you might want to wander through after a winter's storm and do a bit a of collecting that will come in handy at your bird feeding station.  Wind blown trees will often have some of their weakest branches and twigs break off.  Hopefully you will come across a few interesting, lichen-covered ones.

A Little Tip

Secure the branch or twig to a structure on the feeding station or your deck, preferably where you can view it from inside.  Many birds enjoy pulling the lichen off and use it in when building their nests.
Picture of the Week
During 2010 we are continuing to post a new photograph every week.  You can see the lastest and by clicking here.

Coming Up
We continue to work on new features and additions to the Inn.  In the works we have some more crosswords and jigsaw puzzles as well as other features and articles which explore the natural world and celebrate photography.

Bird Food Recipes
If you're looking for some interesting projects and want to help birds make it through the winter, then you may want to check out our collection of bird food recipes.
Past Issues
We upload past issues of Whispers as new ones are issued.  You can view them all with a simple click here 
Did You Know... 
Did you know that porcupines have over 30,000 quills?  They cover its entire body except for the legs, muzzle and stomach.  The longest are on its back and tail and the shortest on its face.

Did you know image

The quills are actually a form of hair and are hollow with barbs at the end. 
Contrary to popular belief, the porcupine is unable to shoot its quills.

For more interesting information and photographs about mammls, visit the Mammal Wildzone
Trivia Answer 
If you're running a ranarium, you're raising frogs.

Trivia Answer 

What's This? 
This month's mystery is solved: 

What's this answer

This is California Groundcone, Boschniakia strobilacea, an rather unsual parasitic wildflower. It's a California native, but is found in some parts of western North America.
Nature Notes

Take our virtual tour to California's Joshua Tree National Park by clicking here

Spread the Word ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Please spread the word about our project by passing on our website information to friends and other nature lovers.  You can also forward this newsletter by clicking on the "forward e-mail" link at the bottom of this newsletter.

Any other ideas and suggestions are always welcome.  Send us an e-mail!
Until next time, best wishes from your friends at the Dereila Nature Inn - the Cyber Nature Centre for Nature Lovers. Watch for the next issue of Whispers in your inbox during the first week of February 2010.