Spring Waterfowl

Posted by on Mar 24, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Waterfowl

Spring Waterfowl

The spring waterfowl migration is one of my favorite events on the annual outdoor calendar.  Anxious to get to northern nesting grounds, the first flocks of ducks began dotting the Iowa skies as soon as area wetlands began to thaw.  Once open water appears, migrant numbers steadily escalate as temperatures warm.  A mixed flock of northbound waterfowl pause to rest on a North Iowa wetland. Although northbound fowl can be viewed from the car window, you’ll receive a greater reward by adopting a more aggressive...

read more

What a Difference a Day Can Make!

Posted by on Mar 17, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on What a Difference a Day Can Make!

What a Difference a Day Can Make!

It’s an old familiar phrase that can apply to a lot of things.  This week, it applied to backyard birding. Following a complete snow melt and solid string of spring-like temperatures, backyard bird activity had declined.  Feeders that had enjoyed popularity through the cold weather winter months had become predictably quiet.  Only a half dozen or so bird species continued to appear daily.  Even these visits had become increasingly sporadic as birds seemed more interested in what they could find under last year’s...

read more

Good Rabbit

Posted by on Mar 15, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Good Rabbit

Good Rabbit

It was early March, and Iowa’s spring thaw was gathering a full head of steam.  Even in the north, snow cover was going fast.  Another day, maybe two, and it would all be gone.  Camouflaged beneath the tawny canopy of last year’s vegetation, the cottontail held its nerve, sitting tight until we nearly stepped on it.  Leaping into action, the cottontail beat a gazelle-like, high-speed exit.  Attila exploded from my gloved fist and the chase was on.  The cover was thick, but not thick enough.  In...

read more

Signs of Spring

Posted by on Mar 10, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

Nearly everyone has a favorite sign that says spring is on the way.  It might be melting snow drifts, a noisy echelon of northbound geese, or the sighting of the season’s first robin.  This year, I’m adding chipmunks to the list.  That’s right, I said chipmunks. I know, of course, that chipmunks are still supposed to be deep into hibernation, sound asleep in their cozy underground dens.  But I also know of one chippie that isn’t.  I could scarcely believe my eyes when, early Sunday morning, I spotted...

read more

Spring Migration – Trumpeter Swans

Posted by on Mar 9, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Migration – Trumpeter Swans

Spring Migration – Trumpeter Swans

Pushing hard on the heels of a retreating winter, migrating trumpeter swans are moving northward.  For area wildlife enthusiasts, the sight and sound of wild swans is a heart stirring event. With peak weights exceeding thirty pounds, the trumpeter swan is North America’s largest waterfowl.  Although swans were an abundant nesting species at the time of Iowa settlement, unregulated hunting for meat and skins coupled with wholesale wetland drainage led to a rapid demise.  By the mid-1880s, swans no longer existed in the...

read more

Season’s End?

Posted by on Mar 3, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Season’s End?

Season’s End?

There are some things in life that I’ve learned not to take for granted.  Winter weather is one of those things.  Hard to believe that, just one week ago, Northern Iowa was receiving eight inches of beautiful new powder.  Stale rural landscapes were once again transformed into spectacular winter wonderlands.  Responding to the conditions, late season rabbit hunting kicked into overdrive.  Refreshed and rejuvenated, the shift in weather seemed certain to delay the inevitable snow melt by at least a week or...

read more

Feeding Birds with Birds

Posted by on Feb 19, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Feeding Birds with Birds

Feeding Birds with Birds

For those who abhor cold weather, backyard bird feeding is the perfect winter pastime.  You get to enjoy the daily activities wild birdlife but, instead of braving the elements, you do it from the warmth of your living room — and without the cumbersome hassle of coats, boots, mittens and handwarmers. Winter bird feeding is as simple, or as complicated, as you care to make it.  The greater the variety of foods you provide, the greater the number of species and total birds you’ll attract.  Watching as birds busily...

read more

Red Fox – Friend or Foe?

Posted by on Feb 7, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Red Fox – Friend or Foe?

Red Fox – Friend or Foe?

Pursuing the red fox is a challenging pastime.  My latest attempt at catching one was a classic example.  Following a week of cat and mouse, the sighting of fresh tracks, but no fox, was all I had to show.  I finally caught the big male on January 31 — the very last day of this year’s season.  Since I’m not exactly what you’d call a Blue-Ribbon fox trapper, the event was an especially rewarding end to the season.  It also triggered a flood of memories from days gone by. My first encounter with the...

read more

Nighttime Crooner

Posted by on Jan 28, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Nighttime Crooner

Nighttime Crooner

The barred owl’s signature greeting — “Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you all?” – would be hard to mistake for any other sound.   That distinctive call is currently echoing through winter woodlands statewide.  Although once a rare sound across much of Iowa, the baritone hooting is becoming increasingly familiar to both rural and urban residents.   Look Into My Eyes – When I zoomed in on this barred owl, I inadvertently snapped a ‘Double Selfie’ Slightly smaller than its great horned...

read more

2020 Duck Season – Gone But Not Forgotten!

Posted by on Jan 25, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on 2020 Duck Season – Gone But Not Forgotten!

2020 Duck Season – Gone But Not Forgotten!

The Stage Was Set   If There Was Ever A Time to Be In The Duck Blind, This Was It Iowa’s waterfowl seasons have officially concluded.  Gone but not forgotten, the 2020 duck season will be remembered by many hunters as the best in recent years.  I whole heartedly agree with that assessment.  For me, it was the best season since 1979. Like snowflakes, no two duck seasons are alike.  Each year delivers its own unique blend of highs and lows.  There are days when you can’t miss a shot — or so...

read more