Outdoors Today

Prairie management tool = fire

FIRE can be a friend or foe, a tool for good, or if improperly attended to, a hazard. Wise use of fire by trained personnel that have attended fire school know when to burn and when not to burn. Usually a short window of time exists each spring from about mid-March through April when last ...

Talented taxidermy on display April 2-3

The ART of TAXIDERMY done well makes long lasting replicas of animal life. Natural history museums across the globe have used taxidermist's talents to create displays of wildlife for educational purposes. Individuals also use these services to make mounts of trophy animals hunted or fished. ...

Spring time

Warm weather, cold weather, rain, sleet and snow ... sounds like March in Iowa to me. This has certainly been true so far this month. I was able to ice fish in March once again this year, which I didn't think would happen, and a short week later caught my first bass out of my boat. I don't ...

Sweet Spring!

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have been here all winter. But they too welcome the coming of Spring with its warmer temperatures, less snow, and insects poking out of their winter hide-aways. As more migrating birds arrive during the next two months, food sources for all will increase rapidly. ...

Migrations welcome return visitors

The NORTHERN PINTAIL DUCK is the bird most casual observers will note has a distinct white chest and neck line. Its cinnamon colored head meets a grayish bill. And the reason it is called a pintail is due to the long spike-like rump feathers culminating in a long thin line. They are Spring and ...

A balancing act

TRUMPETER SWANS in large wild flocks were just part of a huge migration scenario playing out last weekend. This is just the tip of the migration iceberg however with many more ducks and geese to come this month. In one farm field north of Albion, at least 30 trumpeters were resting far from any ...

The season is changing

While ice fishing still looms at the northern parts of the state, it is pretty much over for Central Iowa. That only signifies that early spring is around the corner and soon we will be casting our favorite baits in the wide open rivers and lakes that we love. With the recent forecast, that ...

Opossums smarter than we think

OPOSSUMS are common, consistent and enduring members of North America's wildlife. First noted and described by settlers along America's east coast, this critter lives in Central America and southeast portions of the United States. It has spread its population base gradually over time to more ...

Students on target for success

BOWS AND ARROWS can be one method of encouraging students in grades 4-12 to stay interested in all aspect of their student careers of learning. How is that possible? Well, this sport involves a lot more than just the recreational aspects of learning how archery equipment works. Archery engages ...

Centennial of Bird Treaty begins in 2016

The MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY will be recognized beginning in 2016 for the work accomplished a century ago. This was an agreement initially signed by the United States and Britain (acting on behalf of Canada) on Aug. 16, 1916. It set the guidelines in place for protecting and managing migratory ...

Robins galore this winter

ROBINS (Turdus migratorius) are making themselves known this winter in central Iowa. Many reports of robins gathering about the bushes and shrubs of urban settings keep coming in. It is nice to see this species of thrush highlighting the snow covered branches of backyard habitats. It is normal ...

Ice fishing at Hickory Grove Lake

Hickory Grove Lake which sits about 25 miles west of Marshalltown is a hot spot for panfish in this area. This park is used all year-round and for many reasons. It has two concrete boat ramps for boats, kayaks, and canoes, numerous areas to have a picnic, modern and primitive camping sites and ...

Thankful for citizen science

CITIZEN SCIENCE is the title of today's exploration of natural happenings or events. We can thank a well-trained science enthusiast and former President of the Untied States, Thomas Jefferson, for his observations. And he wanted citizens to find ways to partake in the collection of data. ...

At the heart of ice fishing

The weather has been delightful as of late, and local ice anglers have been taking advantage of some good ice fishing opportunities. Ice at the main area lakes; Rock Creek, Hickory Grove, Pine Lakes, Green Castle, and Sand Lake are all in good condition. The past few days have been warmer, ...

Winter cold transforms landscape

WINTER in Iowa. What can one say about this normal season. It is cold. There will be snow. There will be calm days and some when winds are horrifically brutal. We will experience a few slightly warmer times and a few very cold spells. Our options: deal with it and adapt. Endure we humans ...

Raptor migration a big deal

BIRDS OF PREY, raptors, use river valleys as natural travel corridors every fall when the urge to migrate dominates their flight patterns. Specifically for the people watching for birds of prey at Grammer Grove, the big day for Bald Eagles was Nov. 27, when a north wind dominated the weather ...

Ice fishing has begun

If you were driving around the Marshalltown area this past week you may have noticed that anglers were testing the ice on ponds in the county. I was one of those anglers and eager to find some ice that was safe enough to try. In today's column we will explore what it takes to get started in ...

The mystery of the Blue Jay

The common BLUE JAY is this week's featured creature. We've all seen them, heard them and admired (or despised) them until one really studies this animal and gets to know what makes them tick. Still there is a lot scientists do not know about this bird. It is a survivor for sure, capable of ...

Better times for pheasants

PHEASANTS are easier to see when there is snow on the ground. Easier for people obviously since the plumage of this popular game bird stands in contrast to an all white snowy landscape. And pheasants must also be on the lookout for predators on the ground (fox or coyote) or in the air (hawks ...

Winter takes center stage

First of all, to all the loyal readers of OUTDOORS TODAY, thank you for your tips, sightings and interest in what the natural world has to offer.Have a Happy New Year as 2016 opens a new page for all of us. Enjoy.It is enjoyable to bring stories of natural history to you week after week. My ...