Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

Ah-ha! A certain sign of spring.
I heard a turkey gobble when I stepped outside our condo before daybreak on Tuesday.
It was only a single (on the roost) gobble, bouncing off the steep ridges in our territory of God's green earth, but to me it was heaven's way of telling me spring has arrived.
I've also noticed other harbingers of spring on my daily drives throughout the Coulee Region and to Ol' Tom's boathouse.
Grass is greening up.
Buds are showing.
My "honey-do" list is growing longer.
Skunk cabbage is blooming in marshes.
Eagles are caring for newborn.
Gray squirrels are chasing black squirrels.
Red-winged blackbirds are calling incessantly.
Robins are chirping during early morning and late afternoon hours.
Ducks are migrating back into the Coulee Region.
Woodchucks are appearing. Skunks, opossum and raccoon also are plentiful.
Boat launches are filling with vehicles and trailers.
Walleye anglers are crowding below locks and dams on the Mighty Mississippi River. I might add they are doing quite well, too.
Deer remain active during twilight hours. It's common to find at least a few in the huge cut corn/alfalfa field on the eastern border of our condo property.
I also noticed four turkeys foraging in the corn stubble on a misty Wednesday. A lone gobbler displayed for an hour early Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, stationed in La Crescent, has been busy. Ramaker responded to urban wildlife calls and assisted local police departments.
Anglers were found to be fishing inside the closed area below the Dresbach Dam and enforcement action was taken. Lock and dam closure areas are in place for public safety. A tragic reminder of this is the news of a fatal boat incident near a spillway in Pool 11 in Iowa over the weekend.
Fishing is picking up, according to Ramake, but play it safe around lock and dam structures.
Tom Hemker, a Minnesota DNR conservation officer in Winona, reports many people out fishing, walking, antler hunting, taking pictures or just checking the boat accesses.
On a crisp morning, one angler advised the officers to not judge him by what he was wearing on his feet. He was wearing mittens on his feet because he forgot his boots. Fishing in the area was still slow, but some nice walleyes, sauger and perch were checked.
Minnesota DNR conservation officer Mitch Boyum, in Rushford, reports receiving a complaint of people fishing and keeping trout. Upon further investigation, the anglers were found without licenses and stamps, and in possession of a number of fish. Multiple citations were issued.
Time was also spent investigating trespass complaints and nuisance-animal complaints.Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.

Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

Many outdoors activities involve teams, small groups and cooperation.
Not now, though.  
Spread out. Don’t crowd one another. Keep your distance. It’s no time for group sessions.
 But it’s OK to be near flocks of bluebird, rafts of wild turkeys, herds of deer and cranes, skeins of geese and convocations of eagles.
 Without nest boxes, it’s anyone’s guess where bluebird populations would be because we see very few of these cavity nesters in natural cavities, trees and other wood structures.
 Pasture barbed wire fences used to be held up with wooden posts, many made from split oak rails five or six feet long. Bluebirds used the old posts.
 The Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW) is an affiliate of a national organization, North American Bluebird Society (NABS) and continues to monitor bluebirds fledged throughout Wisconsin.
 Gene Kroupa, one of nine elected officers of BRAW, points to a 25 percent drop in birds fledged in 2019 compared to 2018, due in part to cold spring weather, which delayed nesting, destroyed some eggs laid and starved some birds.
 In addition, tree swallows, chickadees and house wren fledglings also decreased as well as the number of bird boxes members monitored. In 2018, BRAW’s 3,899 boxes were monitored statewide, while 3,210 were watched in 2019, an 18 percent drop.
“Our trail people (birders who monitor a series of boxes) are aging out,” Kroupa said. “About 50 percent of the boxes were occupied by bluebirds, but some were taken by sparrows, swallows, chickadees and wrens.”
Of those boxes monitored, an average of 2.4 birds fledged per box, according to Kroupa.
BRAW continues to recruit new members, board members, and trail people. Sometimes those are all the same people.
“Some have as few as one or two boxes, others have hundreds,” he said. “Sometimes there are existing trails with boxes that need a new monitor, too.”
BRAW had five monitors in Columbia County, 36 in Dane, 11 in La Crosse, four in Lafayette, two in Green, 18 in Portage and six in Sauk. Fifty-three of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have monitored nest box trails.
Individuals interested in bluebirds, boxes, trails, monitoring and box maintenance can contact BRAW at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s youth turkey hunt is April 11-12, followed by Period A of the regular season beginning April 15. Period F closes May 26. Each period runs Wednesday through Tuesday.
Sale of spring turkey bonus authorizations continues until the season closes, cost is $10 and $15 for residents and nonresidents.
Applications (residents only) for the 2020 Wisconsin elk hunting season closes May 31.
Application fee is $10.
Most public lands, parks and forests continue to be open to users during the COVID-19 drawdown. DNR Secretary Preston Cole emphasized that, saying, “The DNR is committed to providing a safe environment for our visitors (public lands) to enjoy, while protecting the health of our staff.”
Expectations are high that many residents will take advantage of gathering from Wisconsin’s long list of opportunities, be it a hike on a trail, photo session, eagle nest observation, trout breakfast, morels for a Mother’s Day gift, or a bike ride on a wilderness route.
The pandemic is definitely bringing folks outdoors for safe recreation. Now is the deadline to crack and pick last fall’s shagbark hickory nuts, or locate trees for gathering this October. Did you know syrup can be made from shagbark hickory bark flavoring?
All recreational licenses expire March 31. Renewals are now on sale.
Spring is showing with the return of many bird species and easy observations in deciduous forests of those who remained during winter.
Deer, turkeys and squirrels continue to visit harvested crop fields and those that were left standing from last fall. Most wildlife made it through the winter season in good condition, but a few diseased and weathered animals didn’t.
A few green sprouts are showing, including skunk cabbage, holdover garlic mustard, yard grasses, leafing out watercress, and evergreen mosses and ferns. Pussy willow catkins, some shrubs showing only pollen flowers, others seed-producing structures, are now blooming. No water is required to keep them fresh-looking indoors.
The influx of outdoors users has started with double the usual number of fly fishing anglers on trout streams during the continuing catch and release season, ending May 1. The regular season opens the next day.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112

Around the Badger State

Around the Badger State

We at your Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources want you to know we are here for you and our great state as we go through the COVID-19 public health emergency together.
Gov. Tony Evers issued the Safer at Home order Tuesday to "help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can flatten the curve to ensure our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have the opportunity to do their important work." The order is effective from 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, through 8 a.m. Friday, April 24, or until a superseding order is issued.
As we continue operations, please understand that most of our staff are teleworking and may have limited access to files, delayed online connectivity and not in the field as usual. As such, the DNR is temporarily suspending the Outdoor Report.
The Safer at Home order (item 11.c) recognizes outdoor activity as an essential activity. As a result, all State Parks, Trails and Forests remain open and all fees are now waived. All current regulations apply for hunting, trapping and fishing seasons.
Distance is key during this public health emergency. Under the Safer at Home order, we must do all that we can to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Staying home as much as possible and limiting travel to your community is the best way to lower COVID-19 infection rates. If you do go out, implement social distancing and stay at least 6 feet away from other people at all times.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. For updates, visit the DNR website or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram or @WDNR on Twitter.
For specific information regarding the COVID-19, we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.
We at the DNR thank you for your patience and cooperation as we all go through the COVID-19 emergency. We will update information as needed during this fluid situation.
Be more than safe, and stay healthy out there.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wild Birds Unlimited

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

Ever wonder about the cardinal mating season?  
Here are some fun facts:
* The mating season begins with pair formation that includes different physical displays of cardinals. The males show off to attract a female. They also do the courtship and mate feeding. Females choose their mates based on the male’s ornamentation such as the size of his black face mask as well as the color of his plumage and bill.
* Mate feeding occurs when the male cardinal picks up a seed, hops near the female and the two touch beaks so the female can take the food. That is such a sweet gesture. Mate feeding will go on until the female lays eggs and incubates them. Normally, pairs of cardinals stay together throughout the year and may breed for several seasons.
* Did you know that cardinals sing their best during the love season? They sing with great emphasis as evident in the swelling of their throat, spreading of their tail, drooping of wings and leaning from side to side as if performing on stage with much gusto. They repeat these melodies over and over again resting only for a short time to breathe.
* Cardinals are believed to breed from April to September. A female cardinal lays an average of three to four eggs. The females are responsible for incubating the eggs while the males look for food for his mate and later for their young. At nine to 10 days, the young cardinals can already fly. Once they leave their nest, the male parent takes care of the fledglings and feeds them with insects for three weeks while the female prepares for a second brood. It is said that the male has a strong instinct to feed such that he is capable of feeding fledglings of other species.
* Cardinal parents are also quite attentive in their behavior. The female usually sings a short song and makes a gurgling sound before leaving her nest. It is believed to be a signal to her mate that she is about to leave because the male appears instantly after she departs. The male then takes over the nest duties until the female comes home after a short time.
Meanwhile, Wild Birds Unlimited in Onalaska has imposed business restrictions to comply with the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine.
Karen Perry's daughter and store manager, Stephanie, closed the store temporarily on Tuesday. However, Wild Birds Unlimited offers curbside service.
"We have the customers call us and then Stephanie takes their order outside when they arrive," said Karen Perry, early Thursday morning. "They can call before they come, or when they arrive.  There is signage on the door."
Customers may call 608-781-5088, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m., to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m., to noon.
Karen Perry said that during this time of quarantine people need some fun and nothing is more fun than watching and listening to birds especially during this mating and migration season.
"Stay well, feed the birds!" she said.