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Wild About PA

Read Marcus Schneck's blog on the great outdoors of Central Pennsylvania.

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:47:36 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2016

Much of Central Pennsylvania still waiting for cicadamania 2013

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 14:00:48 UTC


Where are the cicadas of Brood II?

The explosive emergence of 17-year periodical cicadas expected about now has yet to fully materialize in many parts of Central Pennsylvania, and may indeed not materialize this year.

Brood II, which is the group of the large insects emerging this year, has never been as abundant or widespread as the gargantuan Brood X, which also is known as the Great Eastern Brood. However, some areas like Bergen County, N.J., have seen millions of cicadas emerge in the past couple weeks.
And, some locations in Central Pennsylvania - notably the Williams Valley/Lykens Valley area between Tower City and the Millersburg-Halifax area - have seen large numbers of cicadas, accompanied by the trademark deafening buzz of the insects in some spots.

Greg Hoover, ornamental entomologist in Penn State's Department of Entomology and one of the leading cicada authorities in Pennsylvania, said one of the questions he's hearing most often from the media the past few days is "Why don't we have them?"

Part of the answer is the smaller nature of Brood II, but another part is that many areas no longer have "an abundance of uninterrupted woodlands" favored by periodical cicadas they once did. The third part of the answer may reside in the unseasonably cold weather just before Memorial Day, which may have held soil temperatures just below the 64 degrees Fahrenheit required to stir the cicada nymphs to leave their tunnels in the soil in search of mating opportunities.

"Some of those colder overnight temperatures may have slowed things down a bit," said Hoover.

However, he noted, areas southeast and northeast of Central Pennsylvania have seen significant emergences, hinting that "by the end of next week, the peak of the emergence will be past. We're getting close to it, if not in some of the southeastern Pennsylvania counties are past peak."

Central Pennsylvania may have one chance to yet see some emergence out of Brood II, and that chance lies in the rainfall forecast the weekend.

"A rainfall event really triggers" the full emergence," explained Hoover.

If you spot cicadas, please report your sighting to

Media Files:

Supermoon, meteor shower will light up the sky on the same night; here's how to watch

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:21:00 UTC


December's sky also brings a stargazing program, the winter solstice and a second meteor shower.

While most astronomy organizations and observatories across Pennsylvania have ended their schedule of stargazing events for 2016, the York County Astronomical Society will host its final Observing Starwatch of the year at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. The event is scheduled for the society's observatory in John C. Rudy County Park near York. Telescopes and star charts will be available.

The starwatch will precede a supermoon and the peak of a meteor shower by just a few days.

The next supermoon - the third is as many months - will reach its full phase at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13. Best viewing times will be the nights of Dec. 12 or 13.

7 spots to stargaze in Pennsylvania

Supermoon is the popular name given to a full moon that occurs when it's at its closet point to Earth, a distance of 222,738 miles.

Also on Dec. 13, the annual Geminid meteor shower will hit its peak.

The bright supermoon is expected cut significantly into viewing potential of the shower, which typically produces 60-120 shooting stars per hour, the brightest of the meteors will be visible, but only a dozen or so per hour, according to NASA.

Other celestial events in December will include winter solstice - the point at which the sun is at its lowest point in the sky, producing the shortest day of the year - at 5:44 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, and the peak of Ursid meteor shower, which is a minor shower that averages 10-15 shooting stars per hour, sometimes as many as 30, in the predawn hours of Thursday, Dec. 22.

Media Files:

Christmas at Pennsylvania's zoos: Reindeer photo ops and a million-light wonderland

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:30:00 UTC


Special events range from breakfasts with Santa to treats for the animals to an all-bird show.

While several of Pennsylvania's zoos are closed until next spring, others have big plans for the holiday season.

Although all of its Breakfast with Santa events over the next two weekends have been sold out, the Philadelphia Zoo also has created Zoo Noel, with the halls of the Treehouse indoor attraction all decked out for photos with Santa, and crafts and activities for the kids. A holiday hot chocolate bar and the Little Elves' Gift Shop enhance the festive setting.

Santa also will be hosting breakfasts, and lunches, at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3-4. In addition to the family buffet, children will have the chance to decorate a Christmas cookie, meet the zoo's educational animals, write a letter to Santa and then visit with the man himself for photos.

After each breakfast, at 11:30 a.m. Santa will lead the Penguins on Parade procession. The parade runs each Saturday and Sunday throughout the winter months, except for Dec. 25 and 31 and Jan. 1.

ZooAmerica in Hershey will provide special winter treats to various inhabitants of the zoo on various days throughout the holiday season. On Saturday, Dec. 17, otters will get their treats at 1 p.m. and elk will get theirs at 3 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 18, bobcats, 1 p.m., and wolves, 3 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 27, bears, 1 p.m., and deer, 3 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 28, alligator snapping turtle, 1 p.m., and Great Southwest mammals, 3 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 29, lynx, 1 p.m., and mountain lions, 3 p.m.; and Friday, Dec. 30, martens, 1 p.m., and pronghorn antelope, 3 p.m.

After kicking off the season with a tree lighting at 6:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown will have live reindeer available for photos daily through the new year. The zoo also will hold its Brunch with Santa events, including photos with Santa, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 18.  will be held weekends, from

The Lehigh Valley Zoo at Schnecksville has unveiled a third year of its Winter Light Spectacular of a million lights for Wednesdays through Sundays through Jan. 1. The 5:30-10 p.m. event will not be open Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Included this year are 15 more photo-op scenes, a new Grinch Who-Ville scene, a new customer friendly village and fire pit area, and more animated tunnels.

In addition, the zoo will host a Disney Princess stage show, with Walt Disney World's Joanna Bertalan portraying Elsa, at 7 and 8:15 p.m. Dec. 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 23 and 30, as well as local church choirs strolling the zoo grounds and caroling.

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh has brought back its Wings in Winter holiday show at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily. In addition, Brunch with Santa and a Bird Show is scheduled for Sundays, Dec. 4 and 11.

Media Files:

What's the difference between a wild and domestic turkey? 9 things you didn't know

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 13:05:00 UTC


Thanksgiving brings savory images of big-breasted, meaty birds, but there is a very different relative of those farm birds roaming woodlands across Pennsylvania, and far beyond.

See these stunning photos of the supermoon in central Pennsylvania

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 17:42:00 UTC


Photos by Central Pennsylvania residents of the supermoon Nov. 13 and 14.

The full moon that rose Monday night was the most super supermoon of the 21st century -- so far.

Coming when the full moon is at perigee - the point in the moon's orbit when it closest to Earth - it was to appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a full moon at apogee - the point in the moon's orbit farthest from Earth. The moon's orbit around Earth is elliptical, with perigee about 30,000 miles closer to Earth than apogee.

It won't be that super again until Nov. 25, 2034.

The moon will appear full on both Sunday and Monday nights. We asked readers to send us their photos from the supermoon event. You responded beautifully, and the results are at the top of this story.

Media Files:

Black bear season opens Nov. 19: 11 things you don't know about them in Pennsylvania

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 14:37:00 UTC


Test your knowledge about one of the largest animals on the Pennsylvania landscape, maybe even your backyard, ahead of bear season, which starts Saturday, November 19.

Largest, brightest supermoon of the 21st century rising next week

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 15:30:00 UTC


If you miss this supermoon, you'll need to wait for 2034 to see its like again.

The full moon rising on Monday, Nov. 14, will be the most super supermoon of the 21st century to date.

Coming when the full moon is at perigee - the point in the moon's orbit when it closest to Earth - it will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a full moon at apogee - the point in the moon's orbit farthest from Earth. The moon's orbit around Earth is elliptical, with perigee about 30,000 miles closer to Earth than apogee.

It won't be that super again until Nov. 25, 2034.

The supermoon event will peak at 8:52 a.m., but the moon will appear full on both the night before (Nov. 13) and the night after (Nov. 14).

A slightly lesser supermoon occurred Oct. 16 and another will come on Dec. 14, but in neither of those instances will the full moon peak so closely to the time of perigee.

Even with the larger, brighter appearance of the supermoon this month, weather conditions could obliterate viewing opportunities. Overcast skies could cloak the spectacle.

Similarly, city lights will drastically cut into the effect regardless of weather conditions. As with all night-sky events, a supermoon is best viewed under the darker skies of a rural setting.

Media Files:

Planning to build a bunker if your candidate loses? Here are some tips

Tue, 08 Nov 2016 11:45:00 UTC


Prepper community has been preparing for this, or any of dozens of other catastrophes, for years. Make sure you have enough space, food, water, lighting and air. If you're expecting the apocalypse should your candidate not win on Tuesday, maybe a fully stocked, underground bunker is moving higher on your list of must-haves. A Google search of the word "prepper" brings up more than 6 million hits. Websites of all persuasion are ready to share information and products tailored to surviving whatever personal apocalypse the reader has in mind. Survival bunkers are big with most of those sites. Underground Various prepper websites place the cost of an underground, 2,500-square-foot, reinforced concrete bunker at $30,000 for a basic shell to $60,000 for a similarly sized shelter with amenities like mechanical ventilation, bathroom, kitchen and multiple rooms. Some luxury bunkers have been priced at millions of dollars. Concealment underground, for both its protection from blasts up to and including nuclear devices and concealment from ravaging hordes above, is a primary concern on many prepper survival websites. Having 8 to 10 feet of earth over the bunker seems to be the average recommendation. Secrecy Keeping the construction and existence of the bunker secret, even from friends and neighbors, is recommended for security. That can be difficult to pull off with earth-moving equipment working on an urban or suburban lot, so many sites recommend purchasing land in more remote locations or in shared prepper community sites. A common recommendation is for only those people who will occupy the shelter to know of its existence. An escape tunnel separate from the main entrance to the bunker and hidden, according to one prepper website after another, is a bunker essential often overlooked by newbies. However, when something heavy has fallen over the main entrance or the bunker is under assault from some outside force. Make enough room Despite the escape tunnel, claustrophobia will be a very real and very constant concern in your bunker under the ground. For a group shelter that will be occupied for more than 24 hours, FEMA recommends 60 square feet per person if single beds are used or 30 square feet for bunk beds. Additional space will be needed for bathroom facilities, kitchen facilities, air and water systems, storage of food, water and other supplies, common areas, and more. Lighting and ventilation Almost by definition a bunker won't have windows, which means no natural light will be entering the space. Artificial lighting, and more of it than most of us might expect, will be needed to make the bunker livable. Power sources will be needed to keep those lights shining, and for every other powered device going into the bunker. You'll probably want to breathe clean air occasionally in your bunker and for that FEMA recommends a filtered ventilation system that will provide at least 15 cubic feet of air per person per minute. The system should have at least two vents leading to the surface, as well as several decoy vent tubes that do not connect to or indicate the location of the bunker, again for concealment and security. Food and water Potable water is the second most urgent need in the bunker. FEMA and many other authorities recommend having a gallon per person and pet per day on hand or the ability to obtain that amount of water. Storage of hundreds of gallons of water inside the bunker is one option, although it's an option that eventually will run out without resupply. Water filtration systems, water purification devices, wells, cisterns and rainwater collection systems are offered as alternatives and supplements. Food will not be as urgent a need as air and water in the bunker, but eventually your tummy is going to start rumbling. To that end, long-term storage of[...]

Media Files:

Bonus time for leaf-peeping this weekend: Fall Foliage 2016

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 13:00:00 UTC


Fall foliage report from Pennsylvania spotters says plenty of color left in the southeastern corner of the state.

Despite what appeared to be the end of fall foliage 2016 for Pennsylvania last weekend, the Pennsylvania Weekly Fall Foliage Report foresees that this weekend will see the best fall color of the year in the southeastern corner of the state.

"There is though one last area that will still be very colorful," according to the report, which was produced by the Bureau of Forestry in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "East of the Susquehanna River and south of the Blue Mountain is the area with the lowest in elevation in the state.

"About two weeks ago or so, there was a first hard frost that triggered the formation of the abscission layer in the oak leaves. These trees have been treated to warm sunny days and cool nights through the month of October.

"The pigments that are in the leaves, after the chlorophyll is gone are absolutely fabulous. Golds and yellows, oranges and scarlets are throughout. And this is just the oaks."

What trees turn which colors? Your guide to fall foliage in Pennsylvania.

However, large areas of leaves across the region have dropped, leaving much of the remaining cover  spotty, but in large "spots." Some of the best remaining color is in older, suburban neighborhoods and woodlots in agricultural areas.

My secret fall foliage drive for this weekend is a suggestion to develop your own route of country roads leading north or south from Old Rt. 22 between Harrisburg and Allentown.

This week's report from the Bureau of Forestry is the final one for 2016.

Media Files:

Weather folklore: What do the animals have to say about the approaching winter?

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 13:15:00 UTC


Well beyond Punxsutawney Phil and the woolly worm, many animals are fabled for their supposed abilities to predict winter weather.

Old pumpkins can see new life as food for backyard birds

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 14:02:00 UTC


Backyard birding tip: Repurpose pumpkins that have given their best days to your fall decor.

With the passing of Halloween comes the season of the dead and dying jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Front porches everywhere are now home to squishy, collapsing, maybe even moldy pumpkins.

But those old pumpkins, and gourds and squash, that have given their lives in the name of fall decor can find new purpose in backyard bird feeding.

The seeds inside the pumpkins - not so much, the jack-o-lantern - remain sources of rich nutrition just waiting to be accessed.

Open the pumpkin, scoop out the pulp and seeds, wash off most of the pulp, and spread the seeds on strips of aluminum foil or baking sheets. Bake the seeds at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or until they are golden brown.

At this point, the seeds can become a snack for humans or food for the birds. For human consumption, additional flavoring may be desired. For the birds, the seeds are ready.

Once they are roasted, the seeds can be stored for later feeding to the birds. A freezer bag will keep them ready in the back of the refrigerator.

Large seeds like pumpkin and gourd are particularly attractive to larger birds like blue jays, and best offered on the ground, on a large flat rock or on a platform feeder.

Some backyard birds also will eat pumpkin flesh if it's opened and offered to them. As an alternative, dropping the non-seed portion of the pumpkin onto the compost pile will not only keep it out of the waste stream but will also add a lot of active nutrients to the pile.

I haven't mentioned squirrels to this point because so many backyard birders consider them the scourge of their feeding efforts. But the bushytails also will relish in both the seeds and the flesh.

Media Files:

Perfect storm for Pennsylvania drivers: Deer movement, outdoor activity, daylight saving time

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 13:47:00 UTC


In the No. 3 state for chances of hitting a deer, drivers should "slow down and stay alert" as it gets dark earlier and deer are on the move searching for mates. A peak of deer activity, human outdoor activity and earlier sunsets are about to put an additional hurt on drivers and their vehicles across Pennsylvania. The deer mating season, known as the rut, is putting more deer on the move in search of potential mates and deer do not see roadways as barriers to their instinctual urges. Mature bucks spend much time cruising their home ranges, and beyond, during the rut, and yearling bucks often move several miles away from the spot where they were born in search of their own home ranges. Increased outdoor activities by humans at this time of year puts additional pressure on deer to be moving as they escape perceived threats. Adding to all that will be the fall-back, daylight saving time change at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6. That will move up both sunset and dusk into prime drive-time for many motorists. Dusk to dawn also is prime time for deer movement. As it does every year at this time, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has issued an advisory for motorists, urging them to "slow down and stay alert." Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough explained, "While drivers should always remain alert and on the lookout for whitetails crossing roads, there is reason to pay particular attention while behind the wheel now and in the coming weeks." Drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. "Deer Crossing" signs are located along roadway sections that see particularly heavy deer travel and should be taken seriously. But there also are unmarked spots of heavy deer movement along roadways across the state. Deer often travel in family groups and walk or run single file. If one deer successfully crosses the road, another or a few others could be right behind it. Deer eyes are highly reflective and often are the first signal of an impending road crossing. Much deer movement occurs between agricultural fields and forested areas, including roadways that often separate the two. Deer do unpredictable things. Sometimes they stop in the middle of the road when crossing. Sometimes they cross and quickly re-cross back from where they came. Sometimes they move toward an approaching vehicle. If a deer stays on the road, if possible stop and don't try to go around it. Pennsylvania moved from No. 4 to No. 3 on the list of states where drivers are mostly likely to hit a deer, according to the annual survey of insurance claims data by the State Farm insurance company. Under Game Commission regulations, a driver who hits a deer with vehicle is not required to report the accident to the commission. If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass by calling the commission region office representing the county where the accident occurred within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer. An agency dispatcher will collect the information needed to provide a free permit number, which the caller should write down. A passing Pennsylvania motorist also may claim the deer, if the person whose vehicle hit it doesn't want it. Antlers from bucks killed in vehicle collisions either must be turned over to the Commission, or may be purchased for $10 per point by the person who claims the deer, but removing antlers from road-killed bucks along the road is illegal. [...]

Media Files:

Pennsylvania's biggest pumpkin weighs about the same as three grizzlies

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 13:48:00 UTC


Not world records, yet, but some incredible pumpkins are entered in the Pennsylvania Giant Pumpkin Growers Association's weigh-off each year.

The biggest pumpkin weighed-in at the 2016 Pennsylvania Giant Pumpkin Growers Association contest earlier in October in Altoona was a 1,749-pounder grown by Dave and Carol Stelts, of Enon Valley.

Their pumpkin was just 48 pounds shy of the largest pumpkin ever weighed-in by the PGPGA, a 1,797-pound giant grown by Larry and Gerry Checkon, of Northern Cambria. The Checkons also grew the second heaviest pumpkin in this year's contest, a 1,606-pounder.

The Pennsylvania state record pumpkin was a monster that weighed in at 2,020.5 pounds at the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off in 2015 in Canfield, Ohio. It was grown by Quinn Werner in Saegertown, Pa.

The world record pumpkin, a 2,323.7-pounder weighed-in at the 2014 European Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off in Germany. It was grown by Beni Meier in Pfungen, Switzerland.

So how much is 1,749 pounds? 

For comparison, a mature Holstein cow weighs about 1,500 pounds. 

It's about the weight of three grizzly bears. 

It's the weight of nearly two grand pianos.

But it's far less than a 2009 Ford Taurus, which weighs about 3,600 pounds.

The other eight top pumpkins at this year's PGPGA weigh-off were grown by Andrew McCoy, of Harrisville, 1,472 pounds; John Baker, of Lock Haven, 1,371.5 pounds; Jerry Snyder, of Bessemer, 1,331 pounds; Mark Kiger, of Brockway, 1,253.5 pounds; Alice Kiger, of Brockway, 1,211.5 pounds; Dan Wagner, of Mifflinburg, 1,148 pounds; Andy Snyder, of Grampian, 1,146.5 pounds; and Hailey Swineford, of Brockway, 1,145 pounds.

PGPGA is a collaboration of giant-pumpkin growers and enthusiasts in Pennsylvania and beyond, sharing ideas, seeds, and giant vegetables.

The annual weigh-off is held in Altoona the first Saturday in October.

In addition to more information about the weigh-off and growing tips for giant pumpkins, the organization includes a pumpkin-weight estimator on its website, where anyone can get an approximate weight by entering three measurements from their pumpkin.

Media Files:

Pennsylvania Nature Video: Watch as a woodpecker renovates a nestbox

Sun, 30 Oct 2016 15:14:18 UTC


Woodpeckers are among the builders of the animal world, able to remake wood to their own ends. Watch video

Hollow spaces hold a special attraction for woodpeckers, like the downy woodpecker in the video. The birds bore holes into wooden surfaces for everything from finding their insect food to creating nesting spaces to, sometimes it seems, out of compulsion.

Each year, early in fall, after house wrens have used the nestbox to produce a couple broods, a woodpecker has attacked the nestbox then occupying this position in a Central Pennsylvania backyard.

The woodpecker's drumming on the nestbox, as it works to change the entrance hole and even create new entrance holes, continues for several days, sometimes for more than a week.

Some years, when the homeowner forgot to replace the nestbox with a new one, the wrens still have used to raise their broods.

Media Files:

Last chance for leaf-peeping this weekend: Fall Foliage 2016

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 13:00:00 UTC


Fall foliage report from Pennsylvania spotters says this weekend will be the last fall color of 2016 in Pennsylvania.

Peak fall color has passed across most of Pennsylvania, storms have brought down large swaths of foliage and recent frosts will be the final nail in the coffin of leaf-peeping 2016.

In the state's northern fall foliage region - northern Wayne County, and all of Susquehanna, Bradford, Tioga, Potter and McKean counties - "the autumn colors... are mostly gone though there are many oaks still in fall colors," according to the Weekly Fall Foliage Report from the Bureau of Forestry in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

"Many of the trees lost their leaves last weekend from the strong winds and rain," in Pennsylvania's central fall foliage region - a funnel-shaped band with its narrow end in southern Wayne and Pike counties, stretching across the central third of Pennsylvania to Fayette, Greene and Washington counties, and widening to the northwest to include Erie and Warren counties. "The peak is past for the bright colors of the maples but with the hard frost that they had during the past week, the oaks may very well provide a second color blast."

And, in the state's southern foliage zone - the area south and east of a line through southern Monroe, Dauphin, Bedford and southeastern - "there is still a lot of color in areas. Yellow poplar, sassafras, blackgum and even some of the maples are retaining their leaves and color. The oaks are just getting started in their fall coloration so we don't know whether the colors will be carotenoid yellows, anthocyanin reds or the brown and tans of tannin.

"There was recently a hard frost and this will very likely push the oaks and other color holdouts to drop the chlorophyll and show their colors. Let's hope."

My secret fall foliage drive for this weekend, and maybe through next week, is a loop along Rt. 443 east from Fort Hunter to Rt. 501 in Pine Grove, Rt. 501 south to Rt. 419 in Rehrersburg, Rt. 419 south and then east to Rt. 117 near Cornwall, Rt. 117 west and north to Rt. 322 in Palmyra, Rt. 322 west to Rt. 39 near Hummelstown, and Rt. 39 north and west to Wildwood Lake at Harrisburg.


Media Files:

Lake monster Raystown Ray now swims to its own theme song

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:00:00 UTC


Central Pennsylvania song-writing duo puts the tale of the Raystown Lake monster to music. Raystown Ray, the lake monster rumored to dwell in the Huntingdon County lake of the same name, now has his, or her, own theme song. src="" width="600" height="600" frameborder="0">   The Song Whisperers - Bill Dann, of Tyrone, and Jack Servello, of Shippensburg - have put the tale of the great beast into song. Their collaborating video/slideshow producer, Michelle Peters, of Beech Creek, added the video. Songwriters Bill Dann and Jack Servello has put the tale of lake monster Raystown Ray to music.Contributed photo  The result has been delighting viewers on YouTube ever since. Dann, who begins the process for the team, by writing lyrics like those, asked his Facebook followers for suggestions of "a local legend that would make a good Halloween song."  Gary McGovern, of Tyrone, supplied some information on Raystown Ray, which intrigued Dann. A bit more research into the creature led him to George LaVanish, owner of the Tyrone-based Wilderness Editions wildlife art and print company, trademark-holder on artistic renditions Ray and owner of the website. Learn more about Raystown Ray "We agreed that Ray was a docile, gentle giant and should be portrayed as such," said Dann, who then was off and writing the lyrics, which passed to Servello for the music. The result includes these notes on the creature: "Ray isn't some barbarian. He's strictly vegetarian." And, "... he really is quite timid and meek. And if you look above his chin, you might even his friendly grin. When you see him, don't be alarmed. This gentle giant means no on harm. So try and catch a peak today of friendly, bashful Raystown Ray." Among Servello's special touches for the novelty song are the sounds of water bubbling "while Ray glides through Raystown Lake" and a chirping sound, offered as the sound made by the lake monster. The chorus of the song acknowledges the creature's disputed existence with: "Raystown Ray, Raystown Ray, please show yourself to us today. We know that some say you're not real, but we know you're the real deal. Rise up to break the surface here. Oh how we yearn to see you near. This big lake is made to frolic and play. Won't you indulge us, Raystown Ray." It's exactly the type of mystery that Dann likes to capture in their songs, the type that makes "people come up to you and ask, 'Did that really happen?' Then you know you've created an invocative legend." He explained, "I never know what the next one is going to be about. Yeah, it's nice, but where did that come from?" For his part, Servello said, "as soon as I saw his words, I had a melody I my head. Sometimes I need to rewrite a line or so. You try to make it interesting." It's a process that's been working for the duo for more than a decade. "Raystown Ray" isn't the first animal-related song from Dann and Servello. Several years ago, they composed "Thor, the Purple Squirrel from Jersey Shore" about the strangely colored, headline-grabbing squirrel in northcentral  Pennsylvania. That one went viral, and was featured on the Travel Channel program "Paranormal Paparazzi" and on Dr. Demento's long running syndicated radio show. It also wasn't the first foray into the paranormal for the composers of "The Howlin' Hounds of Howard," "White Lady of the Buckhorn" and others. They've also produced more serious songs, including tributes to the likes of the Beach Boys and Ron Dante, lead singer of the Archies; patriotic tunes; holiday songs like "Tonk[...]

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