Junior and I had a great breakfast Tuesday morning. Sitting on two old table chairs off the south deck of Ol' Tom's boathouse and munching on a couple of breakfast sandwiches Junior bought on his way, we had the perfect start for a couple of hours fishing together. Junior and I rehashed past times with our dads again and again as we ate beneath sunny skies, 58 degrees and a cool breeze. Junior and I also caught lots of fish - mostly small - but managed enough for me to fillet for a meal. One small sunfish also gave me a good fight thanks to the northern pike that grabbed it while I was reeling it in. I was finally able to wrestle the dying sunnie from the northern's jaws when I lifted it out of the water. However, the northern eventually got the tiny fish as soon as I tossed it back into the river. "You missed it. The northern came right back and got it," Junior chuckled. Junior and I plan to go fishing again Thursday morning. Who knows what we'll catch? Meanwhile, roadkill, especially young raccoon, are prevalent on local roadways. I'm sure they are being killed during the dark of night when startled by vehicle headlights. Deer remain active in our neck of the woods. A large doe and her fawn trotted past our study window at 5:30 a.m. Sunday. Across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, in La Crescent, completed an investigation where two anglers said they were going to their house to retrieve fishing licenses, but then ran away on foot. Both suspects were eventually identified and charged. Several rattlesnake complaints were responded to.Mitch Boyum, a DNR conservation officer in Rushford, reports speaking with deer hunters busy preparing for the fall. Food plots, trimming tree stands and hanging and setting stands have been keeping them busy. Time was also spent checking anglers, ATV trails and boating activity.DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, stationed in Winona, reports the river is as busy as it gets. Many people were out fishing and recreational boating along with various other activities, including scouting for waterfowl. Hemker also took care of an incident involving a female topless dancer on an island. Hemker also spent time checking ATVs and OHMs on local trails. One unregistered motorcycle operator attempted to leave the area after he saw Hemker, but the rider was found.Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.
Wisconsin Birding Report
August is here, and with it comes the tail end of breeding season for most species and the start of migration for many others. You have likely noticed bird song has declined drastically now as territorial and courtship behaviors begin to wind down. But all is not quiet. Many juvenile birds have fledged and can be heard begging for food from busy parents as family groups move across the landscape. In some cases, juvenile birds are on their own already, while others, like blackbirds, swallows, cranes and some warblers, are starting to congregate in same and mixed-species flocks. Many adult birds undergo their only or primary feather molt this time of year, meaning missing tails, bald heads, disheveled plumage and even the inability to fly (e.g. waterfowl) are widespread. And like it or not, southbound migration is underway. Adult shorebirds, which depart the breeding grounds first, have been on the move since early July. Now they are being joined by the first juveniles, with the entire shorebird migration to peak later this month. Solitary sandpipers, least sandpipers and lesser yellowlegs are especially common, but nearly a couple dozen other species are possible. Look for these long-distance migrants in flooded fields (a.k.a. “fluddles”), exposed shorelines and drying wetlands. Those wetlands are great places to find many other birds, too, like great blue and green herons, great egrets, American bitterns, Virginia and sora rails and various ducks. Land birds have also started to migrate, including the arrival of Tennessee warblers from farther north and departure of some orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and flycatchers. Find a wealth of woodland species by checking edge habitats, fruit sources and following the chickadees or other local birds that often signify a foraging flock this time of year. In the backyard, observers are reporting an increase in activity as young orioles, grosbeaks, finches and woodpeckers come for a meal. Now is a great time to provide a water source such as a bird bath, fountain, mister, or small pond. Hummingbird feeders and garden blooms are also becoming very busy as young birds fledge. Remember to clean feeders and change the solution every 1-3 days during this warm time of year. And keep your eyes peeled because you never know what may show up. Case in point, this week’s rarest bird in the state was a Mexican violetear found on Aug. 2-3 in Crawford County, marking the 8th state record of this large, dark green hummingbird typically found in Mexico and Central America! Rare or not, help us track bird populations and movements by reporting your bird sightings to www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding!
SOURCE: Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologist
Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited
End of summer is the time you will see some of your backyard songbirds looking a bit scruffy. That's because they're molting. You will probably see more feathers in your yard than normal. So here's a little info on molting and how you can help your backyard friends out. Most birds undergo a seasonal transformation in summer, losing and replacing their feathers in a process known as molting. Bird and nature enthusiasts can help birds with the molting process by providing foods rich in protein. Molting describes when a bird replaces some (partial molt) or all (full molt) of its feathers. Birds will also molt if they have lost feathers that need to be replaced immediately. Different species of birds molt at different times of the year and for different reasons. Some birds molt twice a year. During spring/summer, birds (especially males) molt to a much brighter, more colorful breeding plumage to be more attractive to potential mates. In the fall/winter, birds return to a less attention-grabbing, non-breeding plumage. Molting is a critical part of birds’ lives. It’s a complicated process that takes time and energy, and it takes place as birds carry on with their other daily routines. Feathers are more than 90% protein, primarily keratins. Because of the nutritional demands on their bodies to produce feathers and feather pigment, birds must increase the amount of protein and fats in their diets. Molting can be so physically demanding that many species of birds cannot fly during this time. Some birds such as geese, ducks and swans will molt in seclusion to avoid predators. Offering bird foods high in protein and fats in backyard bird feeders is helpful during molting seasons. Foods such as Nyjer (thistle), peanuts, mealworms and Wild Birds Unlimited Birdacious Bark Butter aid birds in replacing their feathers and help ensure that their pigmentation is bright. Having the right food in your feeders isn’t just a wonderful way to see a variety of birds, but it’s also a way to provide birds with an easy-to-find food source during a very crucial time of their lives. Stop in and see us to learn about our great bird food offerings. Happy birding! Karen Perry Wild Birds Unlimited, Onalaska, 608-781-5088
From Southern Wisconsin
An unmistakable droning sound of tiny wings and squeaky chipping of a ruby-throated hummingbird meant it was nectar time. A lowland cardinal plant’s scarlet, irregularly-shaped bloom was the target, albeit only for a moment. The female hummer moved in, collected, backed up and visited again. In collecting nectar, her head brushed the business end of the blooms, where the pollen-laden anther and pollen-receiving pistil’s stigma came together. On to the next bloom, this time dusting pollen on the stigma, gathering anther’s pollen. She could not reach nectar without touching the anthers and stigma, and she was one of a select few with the mechanics to accomplish what the cardinal flower needed. While this act of nature was working like clockwork, a light breeze blew past, taking some human scent into a nearby woods, alerting a doe, who sounded a low snort alerting other deer, most probably her fawn, too. A hen turkey, must have heard the deer, too, and yelped to assemble her poults, some of whom sounded their kee-kee call in return. Summer’s sounds serve purposes we can take advantage of to read what we can’t always see with summer’s great green curtain covering it all for a while longer. The droning sound was the signal to focus on a cardinal bloom, just as a gobble will bring a shotgun pointed near a decoy or a crossbow pinned where a deer is anticipated when the season is right. For some and for now, some listening is rehearsal. One sound meant specifically to rattle intruders comes from the timber rattlesnake when we get too close or corner the reptile. If we pass by at a safe distance, why would nature expend the energy and give up a hiding position by vibrating a tail? With heavy vegetation, summer estimates can be made without hearing a call or sound of the flush of a ruffed grouse or hen turkey. No flushes, no reason to venture here beginning Sept. 12. Some spring grouse sounds were not monitored this year when surveys were planned, but cut short. Other, lesser, data will appear in the Department of Natural Resources fall forecast pamphlet to be posted on the web site later this month. The usual array of species is chronicled as well as other facts required for a successful outing. Full consideration of COVID-19’s impacts on hunting, particularly gun deer season, should now be processed, including considering that some less fortunate may desire venison beyond that which a single gift package provides. Deer hunters can make some healthy impressions by purchasing another antlerless authorization and passing that entire registered animal on somewhat like the pay-forward gesture practiced this winter. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations are available starting Aug. 17, at 10 a.m. for the Northern and Central Forest (Zone 1). Other regions go on sale at 10 a.m. Aug, 18 (Central Farmland, Zone 2; and 10 a.m. Aug. 19 (Southern Farmland, Zone 2). Beginning at 10 a.m. Aug. 20, remaining bonus authorizations for all zones will begin. Permits may be purchased online or by phone (1-888-936-7463)from DNR Customer Service Representatives. Counter service at all DNR service centers is not available that this time. Summer sounds have also been used as a "what-can-I-do" activity during COVID-19 slowdowns. Wayne Whitemarsh, Sauk City, started an informal Porch Night with a few close friends to listen and identify dusk and night sounds. “Bird life is still normal whereas people’s isn’t. Woods' life is still unchanged,” he said. “Listening for and to sounds and identifying them add another dimension to the outdoors and something that fits in perfectly with staying close to home." Don Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe, reminded that we sometimes use sounds to initiate nature’s sounds, like walking heavy to scare a deer “husking” ears in a field. Anglers are not oblivious to sounds, either. Now Bret Schultz, Black Earth, is focused on sounds of cicadas - crickets. “When I hear them, I know small hoppers are around, too. Fish are going to see hoppers and I can start throwing imitations of hoppers and crickets," he said. "It will be some of the best surface trout fishing I am likely to have all season.” Schultz added that an area stream, where the water was gin-clear, he could watch the entire show. He started throwing hoppers and raised 92 trout in three hours. Another summer sound is rippling water. With temperatures on the rise, fish will move into oxygenated water created by the ripples, so that’s where Schultz heads when he hears the sound. “The strikes can be so explosive,” he said. “The fish will sense the fly hitting the surface and come from 6 to 8 feet away when the hopper hits the water. I can see the fish come out from a undercut bank.” Keep listening. Summer sounds can both calm and assist in enjoying Wisconsin’s nature.