Bobtail

Posted by on May 18, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Bobtail

Bobtail

I’m not one of those people who is big on naming wildlife.  But in the case of Bobtail, it was hard to resist. Bobtail is a white-tailed doe that, at some point in her life, has literally had her tail chopped in half.  The squared off portion that remains makes her easy to identify. Bobtail [bringing up the rear] crosses the road in December of 2017 at the Dave Rosendahl farm south of Clear Lake My first encounter with Bobtail came during the winter of 2017 when she, along with several other white-tails, ran across the...

read more

Time to Head for the Woodlands

Posted by on May 9, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Time to Head for the Woodlands

Time to Head for the Woodlands

For Iowa birding enthusiasts, the month of May is a time like no other — the absolute high-water mark of the annual outdoor calendar.  The reason is simple.  After spending the winter months in food rich habitats in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, millions of neotropical songbirds are making their way to northern nesting grounds.   Indigo bunting – Although some spring migrants may be a challenge to identify, the strikingly iridescent blue plumage and melodious repertoire of the male Indigo...

read more

Spring Turkeys

Posted by on May 4, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Turkeys

Spring Turkeys

The final segment of Iowa’s four-part spring turkey season is currently underway.  The season ends May 15. As is the case with most outdoor activities, turkey hunting success depends largely on local weather conditions.  Like most of us, spring gobblers prefer clear skies, warm sunrises and light or no wind.  Generally speaking, toms spend more time gobbling on nice days which results in more hunters putting more wild turkeys in the bag.  Unfortunately, this year’s seasons have offered little in the way of ideal...

read more

Spring Mushrooms

Posted by on Apr 29, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Mushrooms

Spring Mushrooms

For Iowa mushroom hunters, it’s been a cold, dark, and windy spring.  At a time when succulent morels should begin emerging in numbers, nighttime temps hover near or below freezing on an all too frequent basis.  As popular woodlands remain void of emerging foliage, some enthusiasts are giving up hope.  If it gets much later, they say, there won’t be a mushroom crop at all.  Not true.  No matter how long it takes, sooner or later, the morels will start popping.  The season may be brief, but rest assured that...

read more

Spring Migration

Posted by on Apr 16, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Migration

Spring Migration

The white-hot stars of a spring night were rapidly fading into nothingness.  Meanwhile, the eastern horizon was being set ablaze by strengthening hues of the impending sunrise.  A new day was beginning at the Ventura Marsh. The transition was greeted by a symphony of familiar wetland sounds – the soft splashing of waves, the brittle rustle of winter dried cattails, the trill of red-wings, and the overlapping voices of a thousand meowing cats.  That’s right, the sound of meowing cats; smack in the middle of a 200-acre...

read more

Avian Influenza Spreads Across Iowa

Posted by on Apr 4, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Avian Influenza Spreads Across Iowa

Avian Influenza Spreads Across Iowa

To paraphrase former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, “Here we go again.” A new wave of highly pathogenic avian influenza [HPAI] is currently sweeping across North America.  Similar to the outbreak which occurred during 2015, a Eurasian-origin strain of HPAI [commonly known as bird flu] was first detected in a captive, multi-species Canadian bird flock in December of 2021.  In January 2022, a U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] surveillance program discovered the pathogen in a hunter harvested American wigeon from South...

read more

March Smackdown

Posted by on Mar 14, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on March Smackdown

March Smackdown

Although Iowa’s spring turkey seasons are still a few weeks away, local gobblers are already strutting their stuff.  By the sounds of it, this morning would be no exception.  In spite of chilly temperatures and a brisk northwest wind, turkeys had begun sounding off at the first hint of dawn.  As daylight increased, the gobbling rapidly intensified.  Gliding off the roost, a trio of mature toms touched down near the edge of frost covered bean field. Quickly merging into a tight group, the birds lost no time in...

read more

Searching for the Bird of the Midnight Sun

Posted by on Mar 2, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Searching for the Bird of the Midnight Sun

Searching for the Bird of the Midnight Sun

For Iowa outdoor enthusiasts, the sighting of a seldom seen bird is a rare treat.  And when it comes to birding in the Tall Corn State, the sightings don’t get much rarer than when focusing your binoculars on a wild gyrfalcon.  The species is such an infrequent visitor, in fact, that most birders – even the hardcores — will never receive an opportunity see a wild ‘gyr in Iowa.  I’ve had the priviledge of seeing two.  The first was at a distance; the second was much closer.  Lance Christensen, Rob...

read more

Antler Hunting Season Has Begun

Posted by on Feb 22, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Antler Hunting Season Has Begun

Antler Hunting Season Has Begun

Iowa bucks are suddenly losing their heads — or at least the showiest parts of them. By the time mid-February rolls around, North Iowa’s white-tailed bucks will have begun dropping their antlers.  For outdoor enthusiasts, it’s an annual Call to Arms as a willing legion of shed hunters invade local woodlands in search of lost treasure.  During recent years, the search for discarded antlers — shed hunting — has become one of our fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation.    In terms of body...

read more

February is National Bird Feeding Month

Posted by on Feb 8, 2022 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on February is National Bird Feeding Month

February is National Bird Feeding Month

On February 23, 1994, United States Congressman, John Porter [R-Il] officially proclaimed February as National Bird Feeding Month.  Reading his proposal into the Congressional Record, Porter noted that February is the most difficult month for wild birds.  Expounding the educational, entertainment, and ecological values of wild birdlife, the Congressman encouraged an increased public participation in providing food, water, and shelter for America’s backyard birds. Attracted to a feeder containing black oil sunflower seeds, a...

read more