Shock & Awe

Posted by on Aug 16, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Shock & Awe

Shock & Awe

  Dueling Bison Provide Late Summer Drama Late summer is one of my favorite times for visiting the Black Hills of western South Dakota. For the American bison, it’s the peak of the annual breeding season and mature bulls are on the scrap. With blood running hotter than the prairie sun, love struck prime-of-life-bulls are currently regarding every other male as a potential rival. As a result, the western grasslands have become a tinder box of irrational emotion. When bulls cross trails, tempers flare. Battles erupt. The age-old duel...

read more

Banner Year for Cicada Killers

Posted by on Jul 28, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Banner Year for Cicada Killers

Banner Year for Cicada Killers

  It’s late July; summer is beginning to wane. Right on schedule, this year’s crop of annual cicadas has made their above ground appearance. Often referred to as “locusts”, the distinctive chorus of hopeful males is currently filling the sultry summer atmosphere. With volumes exceeding 100 decibels, the ear-piercing trill is impossible to miss. Louder than your neighbor’s lawn mower; the cicada’s song is the insect equivalent of a dull power saw chewing through plate steel. For many folks, the cicada provides an audible...

read more

Bird Brain

Posted by on Jul 12, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Bird Brain

Bird Brain

Ask any duck hunter what he or she considers to be the smartest duck and they’re likely to list the mallard as a top contender. Whoever coined the phrase “Bird Brain” certainly wasn’t referring to the noble Greenhead. As elusive as they are gaudy, mallard ducks rarely come straight to the decoys. Instead, they prefer to cautiously inspect the spread from a distance, warily circling round and round until finally heading for safer waters. But even though mallard hunting often proves to be a humbling experience, most duck hunters remain...

read more

Iowa’s Red-headed Woodpecker Suffers Alarming Decline

Posted by on Jun 22, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa’s Red-headed Woodpecker Suffers Alarming Decline

Iowa’s Red-headed Woodpecker Suffers Alarming Decline

With its crimson head, black and white checkerboard plumage, and bluish chiseled bill; the red-headed woodpecker is one of Iowa’s most strikingly beautiful birds. Occurring statewide, the red-headed is one of the commonest, and certainly one of our most popular, feathered residents. But scientists say the species’ relative abundance may be in peril. Data collected during the North American Breeding Bird Surveys reveals that the number of red-headed woodpeckers is on the wane; declining by an alarming 70 percent across much of its range...

read more

The Beau Brummel of American Waterfowl

Posted by on Jun 13, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on The Beau Brummel of American Waterfowl

The Beau Brummel of American Waterfowl

  To say that wood ducks make interesting photo subjects is like saying Mt. Everest is tall; that lava is hot. With its streamlined form, multicolored plumage, and elegantly crested head, the wood duck is one of our most beautiful birds – the Beau Brummel of American waterfowl. Getting a good look at one is not easy. Shy and reclusive, wood ducks are rarely seen on open water. Instead, they prefer the seclusion of tangled willow sloughs, densely wooded river bottoms, and cattail choked marshlands. Wood ducks are incredibly wary,...

read more

Summer Gobblers

Posted by on Jun 11, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Summer Gobblers

Summer Gobblers

  You don’t have be crazy to sit inside a turkey blind in 84-degree summer heat; but it sure doesn’t hurt either.  I was reminded of this fact the moment the sun hit the blind’s canvas and the inside temperature began to soar.  Within minutes, my temporary abode had gone from a comfortable observation site to a full blown summer sauna.  The growing misery was worth it though.  Out front, a lonely late season gobbler was going crazy.  Music to my ears; his rattling calls were echoing through the steamy woodland.  Lured by the...

read more

Spotlight on Wood Ducks

Posted by on Jun 6, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spotlight on Wood Ducks

Spotlight on Wood Ducks

    Bill’s Pond — June 1, 2018:  Although serious photographers hate to admit it, many of their favorite wildlife shots have absolutely nothing to do with skill but are the result of completely unplanned and uncontrolled circumstance otherwise known as “being in the right place at the right time”.  The photo above is my latest example. Hoping to photograph wood ducks, I arrived at Bill’s Pond before daylight and popped up a portable blind.     Bill’s Pond is a small wetland surrounded by a mature oak timber. ...

read more

Spring Warblers

Posted by on May 26, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Warblers

Spring Warblers

   Magnolia Warbler    American Redstart   For Iowa birding enthusiasts, there’s no better time than late May; the grand finale of the spring migration. Yellowthroat 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 is more uniquely secretive or presents a greater challenge to observe and identify than that intriguing collection of energetic little creatures known as the wood warblers. Although hundreds of thousands...

read more

Close Encounter of the Gobbler Kind

Posted by on May 14, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Close Encounter of the Gobbler Kind

Close Encounter of the Gobbler Kind

  By now, it had become obvious that the gobbler was getting plenty cranked up. Couldn’t blame him. I was getting plenty revved myself. The turkey and I had been playing an ebb and flow, high stakes game of hide and seek for more than two hours now. Patience was growing thin on both sides. From the turkey’s perspective, the hen he was hearing should be trotting to the sound of his gobbling.   That’s how things are supposed to work. I, on the other hand, was trying my best to persuade the bird to come to me. It was a classic...

read more

Mother Goose – A Tale of Survival

Posted by on May 8, 2018 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Mother Goose – A Tale of Survival

Mother Goose – A Tale of Survival

  Ventura Heights wildlife enthusiasts have found reason to celebrate. Following weeks of mixed speculation, the female Canada goose which serves as the Height’s unofficial mascot has been successful at hatching her eggs. Located near the far west end of Cerro Gordo County’s Clear Lake, the goose nest was located atop an abandoned muskrat lodge at the Ventura Heights access where easy, car window viewing made the site an instant hit with area wildlife watchers. But fascination quickly turned to concern as the area was pummeled by...

read more