Hooded Merganser – Iowa’s Other Tree Duck

Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Hooded Merganser – Iowa’s Other Tree Duck

  With its elegantly crested head and spectacular plumage, the wood duck is one of Iowa’s best known and most popular waterfowl. Most folks are also familiar with the woodie’s unusual woodpecker-like habit of nesting inside natural tree cavities or nest boxes instead of on the ground like other ducks. Fewer, however, may be aware that another web-footed tree nesting duck species is currently making Iowa wetlands its home. That bird is the hooded merganser, and its numbers are on the rise. Although limited numbers of hooded mergansers...

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Banded waterfowl — An Amazing Encounter

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Banded waterfowl — An Amazing Encounter

No matter how many years I’m at it, observing and photographing waterfowl never gets old.   Waterfowl are always willing to provide plenty of surprises, and sometimes you don’t know what you’ve captured until you get back home to review your work.  This month’s surprise came in the form of duck bands.  A friend of mine owns a small, shallow pond that sits inside an oak woodland.  It is one of my favorite places to observe wood ducks as they go about their daily lives.  This year, the pond is a focal point for what I think are...

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Stalking Iowa’s Elusive Wood Warblers — A Daunting Task

Posted by on May 13, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 1 comment

Stalking Iowa’s Elusive Wood Warblers — A Daunting Task

  For Iowa birding enthusiasts, it just doesn’t get any better than the month of May. The final curtain call of the spring migration, it’s a time when everything seems to arrive at once. Spring migrants come in all colors, shapes and sizes. But of the more than 200 bird species that will nest in or migrate through our state, perhaps no single group presents a greater challenge to observe or correctly identify than that intriguing collection of tiny birds known as wood warblers. Photographing these energetic little travelers is a...

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Pheasant Back Mushrooms – A Four Star Iowa Taste Treat

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 1 comment

Pheasant Back Mushrooms – A Four Star Iowa Taste Treat

  The morel mushroom reigns as undisputed King of the Wild Edibles. In Iowa, as elsewhere, Morel Mania is rampant. The elusive fungus is in so craved, in fact, that people who can’t find them buy them. But store bought morels aren’t cheap. At roadside stands and Mississippi River fish markets, these woodland taste treats are currently fetching $34 per pound – saw it for myself. As always, demand is high. In spite of the price, vendors are selling all they can get their hands on. I’m told that morels are bringing even more in the...

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Love Birds

Posted by on May 7, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Love Birds

      The winter and spring calls of the barred owl are among my favorite woodland sounds. While most owls reserve their calling for the nighttime hours, the signature “who cooks for you” cry of the barred owl is as likely to be heard at noon as midnight. The larger and more ferocious great horned owl is the first bird to begin nesting in Iowa each year, and this year’s crop of horned owl babies are already preparing to leave the nest. By contrast, the barred owl’s nesting cycle is still in its early stages. In southern Iowa,...

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Natalie Washburn’s Great Big Outdoor Adventure – As told to her Grandfather

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Natalie Washburn’s Great Big Outdoor Adventure – As told to her Grandfather

Listening to new hunters tell their stories is always an uplifting experience; especially when the teller happens to be your seven-year-old granddaughter. Here is how Natalie Washburn recalled her Great Big Outdoor Turkey Hunting Adventure: When Natalie and her dad, Matt arrived at their favorite hunting spot a loud-mouthed gobbler was already sounding off from the opposite side of a nearby hilltop. The pressure was on. Trying their best to stay calm, the hunters quickly popped up their canvas ground blind and hastily placed a pair of decoys...

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Wood Ducks

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Wood Ducks

Spring is a busy time for Iowa wood ducks.  The season moves quickly; finding a safe place to lay and incubate eggs becomes a top priority.  Observing cavity searching pairs never fails to entertain.  This morning, the birds were out and about as soon as it was light – thoroughly scouring the woodlands in search for the hole that was “just...

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Wildlife Babies

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Wildlife Babies

  As predictable as April showers and May flowers, Iowa’s Baby Bird & Bunny Season is about to begin. From early May until mid-summer, wildlife babies from dozens of species will be leaving the protection of their nests and learning the outdoor skills critical to their survival. Before the season ends, Iowa DNR and County Conservation offices across the state will be inundated with hundreds of reports and scores deliveries of “orphaned wildlife”. Surprise deliveries – often dropped off anonymously –will include...

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They Can Hide But They Can’t Run

Posted by on Apr 23, 2017 in Uncategorized, Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

They Can Hide But They Can’t Run

When It Comes To Hunting The Elusive Wild Mushroom –                  Timing is Everything   April showers may bring May flowers, but they also produce mushrooms. And there’s just something about the mushroom that makes people go absolutely crazy. Succulent and elusive, the morel mushroom is Iowa’s most coveted wild edible. Hunting for these tender taste treats can become an obsession; secret hotspots are guarded to the death. Although spring mushroom hunting is a multifaceted endeavor; choosing the exact time for...

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OPENING DAY TURKEYS

Posted by on Apr 22, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

OPENING DAY TURKEYS

    Following weeks of anticipation, the Opening Day the Iowa turkey season has finally arrived. Even more incredible was the fact today’s sunrise was both windless and cloudless — amazing! Early season hunters took full advantage of the idyllic conditions and it didn’t take long for social media to come alive with gobbler success photos — or so I’m told.   Wild turkeys liked the weather too. Although still plenty dark, gobblers started sounding off at 5:20 in the timber I hunted. At the approach...

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