Summer Entertainment

Posted by on Aug 2, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Summer Entertainment

Summer Entertainment

The red-headed woodpecker is one of Iowa’s best-known birds.  It is also one of our most popular.  Easily recognized by its redder than red head, black and white checkerboard plumage, and bluish chiseled bill; it would be hard to mistake this bird for anything else.  Getting up close and personal, I’ve recently enjoyed the opportunity to observe the daily activities of a red-headed pair nesting in the woodlands adjacent to Clear Lake’s south shore.  The red-headed woodpecker is an amazing creature.  Like...

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Velvet Antlers

Posted by on Jul 8, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Velvet Antlers

Velvet Antlers

The white-tailed deer is one of Iowa’s most economically and recreationally important species of wildlife.  For deer hunting enthusiasts, it’s never too early to start thinking of fall.  I was reminded of that fact earlier this week when a yearling buck suddenly stepped out of the woodland shadows and into full view.  Pausing at a distance of around twenty yards, the deer provided a good view.  The first thing I noticed were the blunt, velvet covered appendages jutting from the top of its head.  Although the...

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Fledging Woodpeckers

Posted by on Jun 26, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Fledging Woodpeckers

Fledging Woodpeckers

Female Hairy Woodpecker Feeding Fledgling While photographing an energized gang of scurrying chipmunks at the abandoned woodpile, I couldn’t help but notice an excessive amount of activity on the part of a nearby pair of hairy woodpeckers.  I soon discovered the reason for the commotion.  The woodpeckers’ nest — containing two young — was in the process of fledging. Male Hairy with Fledgling Taking full advantage of the event, I began slowly moving my portable blind, an inch at a time, until I was in good...

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Do Chipmunks Make You Smile?

Posted by on Jun 25, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Do Chipmunks Make You Smile?

Do Chipmunks Make You Smile?

Can’t say for sure what it is, but there’s just something about a chipmunk that makes people smile.  It doesn’t seem to matter where the chipmunk is or what it’s doing – you might spot one sitting atop an old stump munching on an acorn, cautiously peering around a stack of firewood, or high tailing it across a forested trail.  Doesn’t matter.  Even the briefest, snapshot glimpse of a playful ‘chippie is all it takes to make us feel happy. Familiar to most folks through the mischievous antics of cartoon...

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Iowa’s Bird & Bunny Season Has Begun

Posted by on Jun 20, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa’s Bird & Bunny Season Has Begun

Iowa’s Bird & Bunny Season Has Begun

It’s that time of year again.  Iowa’s Baby Bird & Bunny season has officially begun.  During the past few days, I’ve seen lots of wildlife babies.  Baby birds, baby rabbits, baby squirrels.  I even spotted the season’s first pair of spindle-legged twin fawns.   Each new sighting is cause for celebration – a vivid portrayal of the annual renewal of life.  The sightings also serve as a reminder for me to fire off this column.  Doesn’t take much to put this one together.  Filed...

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Blanding’s Turtle – A Vanishing Link to Iowa’s Wetland Heritage

Posted by on Jun 10, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Blanding’s Turtle – A Vanishing Link to Iowa’s Wetland Heritage

Blanding’s Turtle – A Vanishing Link to Iowa’s Wetland Heritage

With its distinctive high-domed helmet-shaped upper shell, bright yellow throat, and endearing smile, it would be hard to mistake the Blanding’s turtle for anything else.  Sadly, it is a species that most Iowans will never have an opportunity to view.  There are exceptions, of course.  Take for example, the adult Blanding’s recently seen making its way across Cerro Gordo county’s S14 blacktop that runs adjacent to the western edge of Wild Goose Marsh, a 156-acre DNR managed public wetland located four miles north of...

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Iowa’s Natural Areas Provide Year-round Wonders

Posted by on Jun 3, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa’s Natural Areas Provide Year-round Wonders

Iowa’s Natural Areas Provide Year-round Wonders

Temperatures are rising.  The days are still getting longer.  In the Iowa woodlands, the transition from spring to summer is nearly complete.  But don’t take off your hiking boots just yet.  For those willing to look and listen, Iowa’s wooded trails continue to reveal new wonders at every turn. Iowa Woodland – A wildlife rich environment where discoveries abound. The ongoing transition of plant life is a most obvious change.  The delicate hues of early spring have been largely replaced by the bold...

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Spring Birding — Healthy for Body & Mind

Posted by on May 24, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Birding — Healthy for Body & Mind

Spring Birding — Healthy for Body & Mind

Looking for something to do?  Sure, aren’t we all?  No matter who or where you are, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has created some dramatically unwelcome changes in how we live.  Most of us are into our third month of physical distancing and we’re all getting a little stir crazy – more than ready to get back to life as we knew it.  There are some bright spots — some things people can still do that make life seem a bit more normal.  Getting into and enjoying the out-of-doors, for example, is an activity...

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Spring Turkey Hunters Enjoy Banner Year

Posted by on May 21, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Turkey Hunters Enjoy Banner Year

Spring Turkey Hunters Enjoy Banner Year

Time flies when you’re havin’ fun; and I rarely have more fun than when hunting wild turkeys.  But all good things must come to an end; hard to believe that all five segments of Iowa’s spring turkey seasons have come and gone.  The final season ended last Sunday.    As always, it proved to be an interesting spring with both the weather and the turkeys delivering their share of surprises.  The season began with unusually cool weather.  The wind was howling and there was still patchy snow on the...

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Posted by on May 6, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on

One of the things I enjoy most about viewing wildlife is that you never know what’s coming next.  My latest example occurred earlier today while photographing wood ducks at a small wooded pond near Cerro Gordo county’s Zirbel Slough.  I’d been sitting in the blind for a couple of hours, when a blue-winged teal came zigzagging through the canopy and loudly splashed to the water.  I could tell from the bird’s crescent face marking and cinnamon speckled body that it was a drake though, I must admit, that I was amazed to...

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