BEAUTIFYING THE IOWA LANDSCAPE – ONE ROADKILL AT A TIME

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

BEAUTIFYING THE IOWA LANDSCAPE  –  ONE ROADKILL AT A TIME

  Smelly and disgusting, the scene was anything but pretty. No one would argue that the highway cleanup crew was facing a nasty job. But in spite of sweltering summer heat, foul odor, and grisly conditions; the crew was enthusiastically engaged in the task at hand. It was a dirty job, and they were doing it. In this particular case, the cleanup crew did not consist of human workers but was rather a small flock of turkey vultures. Eagerly focused on the removal of a roadkilled raccoon, the hungry birds actually seemed to be enjoying the...

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Summer Velvet

Posted by on Jul 15, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Summer Velvet

  For Iowa deer hunters, it’s never too early to start thinking of fall. I was reminded of this fact this morning when, just after sunrise, I spotted a group containing four mature, bachelor bucks. Standing in an open grassland, the deer were a sight to behold. The antlers on three of the bucks had already extended well beyond the width of their ears. The fourth buck was — well, he was absolutely ginormous. His massive, still growing headgear not only extended way past his ears, but towered high above his head as well. If seeing...

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Tasty & Nutritious — Summer’s Wild Edibles Are Worth Fighting For

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Tasty & Nutritious — Summer’s Wild Edibles Are Worth Fighting For

      The best things are always worth fighting for. For the past several days, I’ve been fighting. Fighting with deer, fighting with robins, fighting with catbirds. We’re fighting every day. Fighting at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perhaps competing is a better term. My – or maybe I should now say our — favorite stands of wild mulberries have reached full maturity, and it seems that everything wearing feathers or fur is currently after their fair share. Mulberry trees are wildlife magnets. Few wild edibles are more popular...

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Land Snails

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

Land Snails

                       With The Highest Extinction Rate of Any Animals                    Land Snails                   Are First Alert Indicators Of A Healthy Environment McGREGOR, IOWA: Extreme northeastern Iowa is a naturalist’s paradise. Everything about the region is fascinating. The rugged bluff country landscape, the fish, the wildlife, the plants – all seem to be in a league of their own. Many of the landscape features found here are highly unique; such as the rare,...

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Woody Woodpecker Makes North Iowa its Home

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

Woody Woodpecker Makes North Iowa its Home

  With its crow-sized body, zebra striped head, and flamboyant Mohawk hair do; the spectacular pileated woodpecker would be hard to mistake for any other bird. With a voice matching its size, the pileated is the loudest bird of the forest. So much so, that the species’ maniacal call provided inspiration for the popular Woody the Woodpecker cartoon character, and the bird’s outrageous repertoire has been a source for the jungle night sounds in Hollywood movies. But although pileated woodpeckers are easily heard, they are less often...

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Living With Woodpeckers

Posted by on Jun 17, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 1 comment

Living With Woodpeckers

    The pileated woodpecker is one of the most fascinating, though least seen, birds of the Iowa woodlands. Although always in high demand with birders, in depth observations do not come easy. During more than four decades of outdoor photography, I’ve only had opportunity to observe three active pileated nests. One of those rare events occurred this June at a nest in the heavily timbered Tanglefoot Area of Clear Lake’s south shore where, over an eight-day period, I was able to log nearly 100 hours of close hand observations of...

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Falcon’s Return – Iowa Peregrine Numbers Exceed Historic Levels

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Falcon’s Return – Iowa Peregrine Numbers Exceed Historic Levels

  Even when you’re attached to a rope that’s anchored to a tree, stepping into thin air off the top of a 200-foot vertical cliff takes no small measure of courage. But stepping off into thin air is exactly what David Kester did earlier this week at a limestone rock face located on the Mississippi River near Dubuque. For Kester, it was nothing unusual — all in a day’s work. No more frightening than if you or I were to step off a roadside curb. Kester’s activity had its purpose; the mission was straight forward. The goal was...

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Gobbler Close Encounter

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Gobbler Close Encounter

There are just some things that a person can’t get enough of. Like observing and listening to wild turkeys as they move about in their natural woodland habitats.  Iowa’s spring hunting seasons are over, of course. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone has to quit messin’ with willing gobblers. It just means that you can’t bring any of them home to eat; at least until the fall season opens in October. But then, who’s counting? Although early morning gobbling has certainly backed off from the intensity seen during early...

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Prairie Blue Flag Signals Beginning of Summer

Posted by on Jun 4, 2017 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | 0 comments

Prairie Blue Flag Signals Beginning of Summer

  If the sight of the first robin signals the arrival of spring; then what sign would we use to mark the beginning of summer? According to government time keepers, the answer is simple. Summer officially begins with the summer solstice which, in Iowa, will occur on June 20 at 11:24 pm. But although the solstice may be undeniably accurate, some folks choose to go a different [unofficial] route to determine the change of season. For them, the event is something more personal, like the last day of the school year or perhaps the Memorial Day...

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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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