A Falcon Fancier’s Dream Come True

Posted by on Oct 14, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on A Falcon Fancier’s Dream Come True

A Falcon Fancier’s Dream Come True

I wasn’t until I was in high school that I saw my first peregrine falcons.  Well, sort of.  The birds were actually a pair of mounted specimens perched atop a fake, papier-Mache cliff ledge behind the glass window of a wildlife diorama in St. Paul, Minnesota’s Bell Museum.  Although the work was flawless, the taxidermied birds lacked spirit – no more real peregrines than birds painted on canvas.  But according to the exhibit’s curator, those feathered effigies were as close as I would ever come to seeing an...

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2019 Goose Opener

Posted by on Oct 10, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on 2019 Goose Opener

By mid-September, the Iowa landscape was drying up.  My favorite teal marsh was down to a depth of about two inches; many smaller potholes were bone dry.  And then, with just a week to go before the Canada goose opener, the rains came.  Deluge would be a more appropriate description; anywhere from 6 to 7 ½-inches in four days depending on where you were in the northern Iowa.  Like a dream come true, area marshes refilled overnight.  In local cattle pastures and hay fields, there were even some areas of sheet water;...

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Iowa Gopher Mound Yields Rare Sighting

Posted by on Oct 6, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa Gopher Mound Yields Rare Sighting

Dig your way through a few fresh gopher mounds, and you’re likely to find just about everything but gophers.  Discoveries may include napping toads, salamanders, garter snakes, and an impressive array of multi-legged invertebrate wildlife.  During early fall, the excavations can occasionally yield something a bit more exotic.  That’s what happened earlier this week when Carol and I were poking around the Beaver Dam Wildlife Area. Located in Northern Iowa’s Cerro Gordo County, Beaver Dam is a DNR managed, restored...

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Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is Site for World Class Hawk Migration

Posted by on Oct 5, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is Site for World Class Hawk Migration

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is Site for World Class Hawk Migration

DULUTH, MN. — In the dense evergreen forests of America’s North Country, the fall raptor migration is gathering a full head of steam.  Pouring down from Canada, the flight includes birds of prey of all shapes and sizes from tiny kestrels to gargantuan twelve-pound golden eagles.  Although the grand passage can be viewed from a variety of locations, there is no better place to witness this World Class spectacle than at the famous Hawk Ridge region of Lake Superior.     Lake Superior is the world’s...

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Iowa Teal Season is Flying By

Posted by on Sep 11, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa Teal Season is Flying By

Iowa Teal Season is Flying By

Iowa’s September teal season is the best thing that’s happened to duck hunting in the past half century.  Timed to take advantage of early migrating blue-winged teal, the season is offered to Mississippi Flyway states by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a sixteen-day, teal only bonus hunt.  The special season is referred to as a bonus because the sixteen days are not subtracted from Iowa’s “regular”, sixty-day duck seasons.  The math is simple.  Iowa teal seasons turn a normally scheduled, 60-day duck...

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Hummingbird Migration

Posted by on Sep 8, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Hummingbird Migration

Hummingbird Migration

Mix the sugar water.  Fill the backyard feeders.  The fall migration of the ruby-throated hummingbird is underway.  For those wishing to obtain an eyeball to eyeball encounter with our tiniest feathered travelers; there’s no better time than the present. Although some of the hummingbirds we’re seeing may be holdovers from birds raised right here in Iowa, the bulk of the population is currently arriving from points north – many from as far away as northern Minnesota and Ontario, Canada.  Although hummingbird...

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Predicts Strong Duck Numbers For 2019

Posted by on Aug 21, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Predicts Strong Duck Numbers For 2019

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Predicts Strong Duck Numbers For 2019

Duck hunters can expect to see strong waterfowl numbers during the 2019 fall migration and hunting seasons, says the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in a report released earlier this week.  The assessment was based on data gathered during this year’s North American Breeding Duck and Habitat Survey.  Conducted each year since 1955, the continent-wide annual waterfowl survey measures trends in duck breeding populations and monitors wetland [pond] indexes across the northern U.S. as well as for large portions of prairie and...

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Despite Hard Winter — Iowa Deer Enjoy Excellent Production

Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Despite Hard Winter — Iowa Deer Enjoy Excellent Production

Despite Hard Winter — Iowa Deer Enjoy Excellent Production

Intelligent, adaptable, unbelievably resilient; the white-tailed deer is one amazing creature.  The white-tail’s resilience – its ability to survive under extreme circumstances — has never been more evident than it has this spring and summer.  Everywhere I go, I see does with fawns. So, what makes this noteworthy?  To put things into proper perspective, we need to look back to last winter.  I hang my hat in extreme northern Iowa where, even by our standards, last winter was regarded as exceptionally...

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Sandhill Cranes Reclaim Historic Iowa Wetlands

Posted by on Aug 7, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Sandhill Cranes Reclaim Historic Iowa Wetlands

Sandhill Cranes Reclaim Historic Iowa Wetlands

Following months of austere reclusion, resident families of sandhill cranes are beginning to appear.  Stealthily prowling marsh edge, cow pasture, and bean field; crane parents are busily teaching youngsters – more properly called crane colts — the useful art of frog spearing.  Learning to successfully hunt frogs, snakes, and other edible creatures is a trial and error process that will eventually allow juvenile sandhills to survive on their own. Accompanied by their adolescent offspring, a pair of sandhill cranes hunt...

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Goose Production

Posted by on Aug 1, 2019 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Goose Production

Goose Production

The Iowa skies are getting louder.  This year’s crop of Canada geese are testing their wings.  The gosling’s initial flights are entertaining — often humorous — endeavors.  Facing into the breeze, the flights begin with an awkward, wing flapping, running start.  Like an airplane taxiing down the runway, the speed gradually increases until the goslings are suddenly airborne.  Many appear surprised that it’s really happening — “I can fly!”  A goose’s first flights are...

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