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Steve Maanum

From Backyards to Backwoods: Welcome to nature's wonders: a new view

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Editor's Note: We welcome Steve Maanum, who will write sporadically throughout the winter, his busy schedule allowing.

I've been asked to help fill in for Maureen and right from the start you'll notice a difference. There's no duplicating Maureen's style or her background so I won't even try.

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Over the years she has developed her column along with her audience. That is a tough act to follow. Even though our writing styles and experiences are different, we have a common passion for the outdoors and a desire to share it with others.

What I will be doing is using my combined backgrounds in education and photography to bring you a weekly column that is focused on teaching about our natural world through the lens of a camera.

During my thirty-four years in the classroom, the greatest enjoyment and satisfaction I received was always found in connecting kids to nature. Some of the columns throughout the coming weeks will recount a variety of those outdoor experiences and how they were made possible through a three-way partnership that included school, home and community. Other columns will center on questions, comments, wildlife sightings, and stories sent in by readers. All of the columns, however, will conclude with a photo tip and a suggestion for sharing nature with a young person.

So with that, let's get started. In her last column, Maureen mentioned hummingbirds. They have always been one of my favorite species. I have spent hours trying to photograph these tiny, fast-moving flyers and this week they have been very active at the feeders.

Have you ever gone on-line to research hummingbirds? This is where I have a decision to make. Do I write as a reporter and list a bunch of fun facts or do I write as a teacher and mention one or two fun facts, just to pique your interest and then give you the enjoyment of searching for yourself?

Well, I've been a teacher longer than I've been a writer so guess what? I'll dangle the carrot by telling you I found out that hummingbirds have an average lifespan of 4-5 years and that the oldest on record is 12 years old.

Hummingbird eggs hatch in 2-3 weeks. Males migrate before the females.

Now, what else can you find? While you are looking, take time to watch hummingbird videos on www.hummingbird.net.

Another site is called "Journey North." It's a Web-based migration study of several wildlife species including songbirds, monarchs, eagles, whooping cranes, manatees, whales, and hummingbirds. They ask for viewers to respond with hummingbird sightings, comments, and questions.

This column is brought to you by Park Ace Hardware.

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