News and Updates from Charlotte's Quest

Periodical cicada Brood X (10) will emerge in the Spring of 2021 and be with us for the Summer. Periodical cicadas have the longest insect life cycle; after hatching, nymph cicadas spend 17 years underground before crawling to the surface and transforming into adults. Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in 1634 recorded the existence of periodical cicadas and Brood X was first reported in 1715 in Philadelphia.

The last time this brood emerged was in 2004 and we won’t see them again until 2038.

Cicadas don’t sting like bees or wasps but they do have prickly feet that could cling on to you. Cicadas are 1 to 2 inches long with a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches wide. Cicadas may be best known for the loud buzzing sound they make. Male cicadas contract the ridged membranes on their abdomens to make the sound in an effort to attract females. Each species has its own sound, and when cicadas all buzz together the sound can reach 90 to 100 decibels – as loud as a lawn mower.

Scientists expect this year’s cicadas to emerge in late April and early May, triggered by ground temperatures. Their lifespan is four to six weeks, so we can anticipate saying goodbye to the cicadas in late June or July.

Cicadas are likely to emerge at Charlotte’s Quest, so we hope to be able to share news of their arrival with you on our social media channels. If you see or hear cicadas while you’re out and about, you can help track them using the Cicada Safari app. You can also share your findings on social media using the hashtag #BroodX or #BroodXCicadas.



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Spring is here and the warmer weather is bringing out the beautiful bugs and critters that we’ve been missing over the winter! Here at Charlotte’s Quest we’ve been particularly antsy about the first bluebirds of the season because in mid-February volunteers began collecting data for the Eastern Bluebird Monitoring Program.


OUR PROJECT


We hope to collect data to track the population and behavior of local bluebirds. We have also introduced a bluebird ‘Trail’ with new and repaired bluebird houses to encourage an increase in nesting activity and the prevalence of the species in general. Our plan is to double the total amount of bluebird houses by next nesting season. Currently, we have sixteen.


The data collecting process is very user friendly. Our friend and volunteer, Dan Schiller, has created a fun Google Doc form that enables our monitors to track specific bird activity, the presence of nests, chicks, eggs, and other important information. Uploading photos into the form allows us to share our experiences while checking on our feathered friends! Once a form is submitted, the data is compiled and updated in real-time. Our data can be narrowed down to show stand-alone demographics specific to the project. For example, we can view total percentages of the following: types of birds entering boxes over time, prevalence of nests, eggs, and chicks over time, and the time of day any activity was observed.


Since our new bluebird monitoring program has really started to take shape, we’ve also launched a fundraiser for those wanting to purchase a bluebird nesting box for their own homes. Now we’re taking it a step further and are extending the opportunity to contribute to our Eastern bluebird data to local community members. Residents in Manchester and neighboring towns such as Greenmount, Hampstead, Lineboro and Westminster will be able to observe, collect and submit Eastern bluebird data using the same Google form that Charlotte’s Quest uses, contributing to the assessment and conservation of our local bluebird population.


Another community-positive aspect of monitoring for this CQ project is the ability to earn volunteer hours. If you register with Charlotte’s Quest as a volunteer, you can earn volunteer hours for your school or organization while you observe and collect information. As a bonus, any volunteer time submitted to us helps cement our legacy in Manchester, demonstrating that we have the community’s support. This volunteerism also helps secure further funding, supporting Charlotte’s Quest’s long-term sustainability. We are also encouraging residents of areas outside of Northeastern Carroll County to participate in bluebird monitoring. We are working to offer another way for you to collect your data or reroute your findings to another dataset for the area that you reside in. All of us at CQ are also excited at the prospect of broadening this venture to include separate monitoring programs centered around other species, such as monarch butterflies, or maybe even cicadas.


HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED


We would love to hear if there are other species you would like to see us monitor! Feel free to comment below and tell us what you think. Any other ideas, questions, or comments would also be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in becoming a monitor, purchasing a bluebird house for your home, or both, please send an email to rrmiller82@gmail.com or contact us at www.charlottesquest.org. You can reserve a bluebird house online here and pick it up from 1pm-3pm from the Nature Center during our First Sunday Hikes!


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There have been countless instances of wild animals showing what appears to be obvious displays of emotion and care.

True, my (mostly) domesticated domestic short-hair, Frida, can be caught in making shameless and elaborate efforts of what looks like affection, only to find out that food stealing was her true objective. However, elephants have been known to cry, console (with their trunks), and linger by and embrace the remains of their fallen. Other animals have also shown signs that they have a more tender aspect of their nature as well. It's even been proven that some, including birds, have limbic systems (the part of the brain, in humans, responsible for emotions).

Recently I have been learning more about Bluebirds in order to better prepare myself for the CQ Bluebird monitoring project and the upcoming Eastern Bluebird nesting season. I have come across articles and even found a video describing how cooperative and caring Bluebirds appear to be. For example, they are known to share in the responsibility of feeding each other. The father will sometimes feed the mother as she is incubating her eggs; the mother, in turn, will feed the hatchlings whatever the father has scavenged. It was also very touching to discover that Bluebird young of the same brood will sometimes even feed each other.

It would appear that there is a clear reason that 'of happiness' is often attached to the end of the word 'Bluebird.' If you have been a witness to Bluebirds showing care and kindness please share your experience in the comments below!


https://magazine.scienceconnected.org/2016/03/big-beautiful-bird-brains/


https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/140221-elephants-poaching-empathy-grief-extinction-science


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