Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Short Stuff ; A Look at What's Making News in January - from Foul-Smelling Flowers to Unfunny Candy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Short Stuff ; A Look at What's Making News in January - from Foul-Smelling Flowers to Unfunny Candy

Article excerpt

Big bird

Once numbering 15, the world's only naturally migrating flock of whooping cranes has continued its comeback. Researchers recently reported that a record 237 birds live in wintering grounds in Texas.

Tom Stehn, a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, has tracked the flock. He says that 45 cranes were born last year, including a rare seven sets of twins.

He credits the increase to mild weather at the birds' nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Canada, where they spend the summer. Then, in September, they usually begin their 2,500- mile migration back to Texas.

The whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America. Some are five feet tall.

It's all about toys

Have a great idea for a toy or game?

In our Jan. 16, Kidspace article, "Big Ideas, Tiny Packages," online at www.csmonitor.com/2007/0116/ p18s02-hfks.html, kids learned how to patent an invention. Now, a national competition is putting kids to the test.

Earlier this month, two toy companies, By Kids For Kids and Mattel, kicked off the third annual "Invent-A-Toy World Games" contest in which youths, up to the age of 19, can turn their ideas into a commercially available product. No toy or game is off limits.

Last year's winner, 6-year-old Jacob Schwartz of Colfaz, Calif., invented bicycle training wheels that can be extended outward for support and stability. As kids become more comfortable riding, the training wheels can be moved closer to the bike.

Inventions can be submitted online at www.bkfk.com/challenge/ subpage/ ideation.aspx. The deadline is April 6.

New flower

Not all flowers smell like roses.

First discovered nearly 200 years ago in the Sumatran rain forest, an unusual flowering plant with the largest single flower - about 40 inches wide and weighing up to 15 pounds - has finally found its home in the botanical tree of life. …

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