Welcome to our monthly celebration of nature and photography!
We hope you enjoy this issue's selection of jokes, trivia, photos and news.
Mount Wilson
Happy New Year! A female Northern Flicker bids you a hearty welcome.

What group of animals is called a cast?

You'll find the answer at the end of this newsletter.

We start 2016 off with a very challenging photo. What on earth is this mystery bird?
You'll find the answer at the end of this newsletter.

_ It's thought that there are some 600 000 Black Bears in North America including 380 000 Black Bears in Canada.
  Although they may look a bit bulky and clumsy they are very fast runners and have been clocked at over 55 km/hr.
  Black Bear cubs are born in the mother's hibernation den in January or February and weigh only 225 g/8 oz.
  Black Bears mate in June or July but the embryos stop growing a few days after fertilization and won't implant in the uterus until the beginning of the denning period in November. This is called delayed implantation.
  Most of the diet of the Black Bear is plant matter, especially berries and nuts when they are available, however they will eat just about anything.

Grab a piece of paper and test yourself by identifying these eight birds.
Bird Number 1
Bird Number 2
a. Black-necked Goose

_ a. Varied Thrush
b. Canadian Goose

  b. Wood Thrush
c. Canada Goose

  c. Hermit Thrush
d. Canadian Loon   d. Swainson's Thrush
Bird Number 3
Bird Number 4
a. Black-capped
  a. Red-capped Woodpecker
b. Boreal Chickadee
  b. Acorn Woodpecker
c. Rusty-backed Chickadee   c. Strong-billed Woodpecker
d. Chestnut-backed Chickadee   d. Woody Woodpecker
Bird Number 5
Bird Number 6
a. Black-headed Thrush

  a. Young Blue Jay
b. Black-headed Towhee

  b. Mexican Jay
c. Spotted Towhee

  c. Steller's Jay
d. Spotted Thrush   d. Gray Jay
Bird Number 7
Bird Number 8
a. Male Black-throated Hummingbird.   a. Red-breasted Nuthatch
b. Female Black-throated Hummingbird   b. White-breasted Nuthatch
c. Male Anna's Hummingbird   c. Blue-backed Nuthatch
d. Female Anna's Hummingbird   d. Eurasian Nuthatch
See how well you did by checking your answers later in the newsletter!

Demonstrate your nature know-how by throwing a few fascinating nature words into your daily conversations!
If someone was talking about a wattle they'd be referring to
  a. the name of a duck's walk.
  b. the part of a seastar that helps it remove waste.
  c. a mating dance done by Sandhill Cranes.
  d. a fleshy thing that hangs from a turkey's throat.
You'll find the answer at the end of this month's Whispers.

Our feature page this month is "In the Shadow of Peaks - Alpine Wildflowers."
The alpine meadows may be currently covered with deep, deep snow,
but in six months (or more!) they will be bursting with colour and life.
Have a look at some of these amazing beauties by clicking here.

A Heron on Horseshoe Lake in Collinsville, IL. sent to us by Tracy Capps of Mascoutah, IL
Tracy also sent us this neat image of a White throated sparrow.
Hubert & Millie Ling of Bridgewater, NJ. Saw this beautiful Little Callicore, Callicore hydraspes, while travelling in Argentina.
Also from Hubert & Millie from their trip south, a South American Coati, Nasua nasua.

A couple of rabbits had a stare off in W. C. Durnil's yard in Chino Valley, Arizona.

Jane and Walt of Red Gate Farm in Texas spotted this stunning Sharp-Pod Morning Glory, Ipomoea cordatotriloba.

Many thanks to Tracey, Hubert and Millie, W C Durnil and Jane and Walter.
If you have a nature image you'd like to see in this section, please let us know!.

While wandering down by the sea, this Double Crested Cormorant
was spotted standing on the rock drying its wings.

Do you have an idea for a fun caption for this photo of a Junco watching a Downy Woodpecker?

Here's some ideas:
#1 - "Hi, what you doing back there?"
#2 - "Are you going to save some for me?"

If this month's photo inspires you, please send us your caption in an e-mail.
We'd just love to hear from you!

Thank you to Tracey Capps for taking us to one of her favourite spots: Horseshoe Lake, near Collinsville, IL.
One can only wonder about the diversity of wildlife you'd find here. Thanks, Tracy!

__Ant, Spider and Millipede were hosting a big party. A couple of hours into the event, Ant realized that they were running low on snacks and goodies, so he offered to pop to get some more. Millipede said, "Let me go. I have a lot more legs than you—I'll be faster!" All agreed, so Millipede took off.
__Ten minutes passed …20, then 30. Spider finally said, "I wonder what's taking him so long? I hope he's OK. "
__"I'll go and check," said Ant who then ventured out and saw Millipede just sitting there.
__"Hey, why haven't you left yet?" Ant hollered.
__Millipede answered, "Well, I'm still putting my shoes on."

"They're always rushing me. Rush, rush rush!"

Our Monthly Selections
Here are this month's choices:
Bird - Gadwall | Wildflower -  Cancer Root | Bug -  Oblique-banded Leafroller Moth

Click to visit__ Click to visit__Click to visit
Click on the images to visit the pages.

A Little Reminder

With the Christmas season over hang your fresh wreath or
other fresh decorations outside and let the birds make use of the berries.

Tips and Ideas

If you hang suet cages from the eaves of the roof, not only does it help to
protect the food from the weather, it makes for easy viewing from the windows.

Make a Birdseed Wreath

Here's a great project from our Recipe Collection that your bird visitors will just love.

Birdseed wreath

  8 tablespoons cold water
4 - 1/4 ounce packages Knox unflavoured gelatin
1 1/2 cups water
8 cups birdseed
  1. Empty the 4 packages of gelatin into 8 tablespoons of cold water in a large bowl. Let the gelatin sit for 1 minute.

2. Meanwhile, boil the 1 1/2 cups of water. Add the boiling water to the gelatin and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until the gelatin has dissolved.

3. Stir 8 cups of birdseed into the gelatin, mixing thoroughly.

4. Let the mixture set for a few minutes, then stir again. Repeat this process a few times allowing the seed to absorb the liquid.

5. Spoon the mixture into a greased bundt pan and put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

6. Remove the wreath from the mould by inverting the pan and tapping along the bottom. The pan may need to warm to room temperature before the wreath will come out.

7. Allow the wreath to dry overnight or longer if necessary. Placing it on a cooling rack will help the air circulate. The wreath should be very solid when completely dry.

8. Use several strands of raffia, twine or strong string to form a loop to hang the wreath.

Click here for printer friendly version of this recipe.
Picture of the Week
Click to visit   Be sure to drop by the Inn every week to see the latest Picture of the Week. 
You can also do so by clicking on the image to the left or by clicking here.
Past Issues
If you want to see any of the past issues of Whispers, they are available here.

Celebrate the 14th Annual National Bird Day on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016.
Join in the Great Backyard Bird Count, an annual event held February 12 - 15, 2016. Click here.
World Wetlands Day is annually held on February 2.
Click here for more information.

Did you know that the word 'squirrel' is from the Greek word meaning "shadow tail?"
It uses its tail to shade from the sun, as a cover to keep warm and even as a parachute when jumping before landing.

Oklahoma named the Raccoon as the official fur bearer in 1989.

A group of crabs are called a cast. 

The bird in our mystery photograph is a Dunlin in its summer plumage.


A wattle is
d. a fleshy thing that hangs from a turkey's throat.

1- c. Canada Goose | 2 - a. Varied Thrush | 3 - d. Chestnut-backed Chickadee | 4 - b. Acorn Woodpecker
5 - c. Spotted Towhee | 6 - d. Gray Jay | 7 - c. Male Anna's Hummingbird | 8 - a. Red-breasted Nuthatch

Click to learn more about the world of bugs

Thanks for joining us this month! We hope you enjoyed this issue of Whispers. We invite your comments and ideas - just drop us an e-mail. See you next month!
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