The AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Carduelis tristis) is a common sight for local area folks. The bright yellow and black plumage of male goldfinches is a distinctive identification clue. It is the state bird of Iowa, New Jersey and Washington. Goldfinches are the only finch that molts its body feathers twice a year, once in late winter and again in late summer. Breeding time for this brightly colored bird is late summer, much later than most other birds. Milkweed seeds and thistle seeds have a long white parachute like fluff for wind dispersal and it is this trait that goldfinches like to use as nest lining material. The seeds of these plants are also used to feed the young. Seeds from composite plants of the aster family, sunflowers, grasses and tree seeds from alder, birch, western red cedar and elm are also utilized.
Goldfinches are strict seed eaters. The only way they will get an insect inside their gut would be accidently as the result of eating seeds. A seed only diet is not what a cowbird hatchling needs. So for the cowbird that might lay an egg in a goldfinch nest, it will be a poor choice. The young cowbird cannot survive on seeds. It needs protein from insects to grow. With a seed only diet, it will die early and therefore not be able to push any young goldfinches from the nest.
When the goldfinch migrates south for the fall, some may actually be in the same habitats of the next bird in today's featured feathered critter photo, the Panamanian Violet Sabrewing, a hummingbird family member. To learn more about this bird and others, BIRDING PANAMA will be presented next Thursday at 7pm at the Fisher Community Center. Retired Iowa DNR wildlife biologist Doug Harr will show slides of wildlife in Panama from his 2008 adventure to that country. Harr will present facts about the country and talk about several aspects of the animals that inhabit this land. This will be worth your time to attend if you have any interest at all in wildlife from different parts of the Americas.
T-R Photo by Garry Brandenburg, COntributed Photo
Two birds from different worlds share the spotlight today. The first is our American Goldfinch, caught in the act of stripping petals from a Gerba Daisy in search of seeds. The second bird is a hummingbird from Panama, a Violet Sabrewing. This bird and others from Panama will be the subject of a public program about the Birds of Panama on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 7 pm at the Fisher Community Center. Don’t miss this interesting program about natural history subjects of Central America.
Harr has a BS and MS degree in wildlife biology from South Dakota State University. He began work in Iowa in 1972 in northwest Iowa, has worked with non-game wildlife species and has headed the Wildlife Diversity Program for many years. He has also worked for the US Fish & Wildlife Service as an instructor of wildlife sciences at SDS.
WATERFOWL SEASONS for this fall in Iowa have been set by the DNR. The dates were approved on August 12 by the DNR Commissioners with two notable changes. First, Canada goose daily limits beginning November 1st will go from two to three. The other change is that pintail duck daily limits will go from one to two.
The state is basically divided along US highway 30 into a north and south zone. For Marshall County waterfowl hunters, a short drive can put them in any zone they desire. North zone ducks season begins September 18 - 22 and then October 16 through December 9th. South zone dates are Sep 18-22, and October 23 to Dec 16.
Youth season waterfowl days in the north zone are October 2 and 3. South zone dates are October 9 and 10.
Canada goose hunting dates (north zone) begin Sep 25 to Oct 10 and October 16 to Jan. 5, 2011. South zone Canada geese dates are October 2nd to October 17th followed by the longer time frame of October 23rd to Jan. 12, 2011. For more details about specific species, consult the DNR regulations or go to the web site www.iowadnr.gov. Click on Hunting and Trapping Regs under current hot topics. Then click on 2010-11 Waterfowl Regulations.
Here are a few more tidbits regarding the City DEER HUNT for 2010-11. First, The Iowa DNR regulations have many urban archery deer hunts beginning on September 11. That is correct for most cities and is within the overall guidelines set by the DNR. However, the Marshalltown administrative rule adopted last year states the beginning date will be the third Saturday of September. Thus Marshalltown's bow deer season begins September 18th for those certified and qualified archers.
Second, for city deer licenses purchased for Marshalltown, the electronic licensing system has been checked and it will date the licenses effective September 18th through January 30, 2011.
Third: Archers desiring to hunt within the city limits must have taken or be willing to take the Bow Hunter Safety Course on-line. Once passed, the course will offer a printable voucher for admission to the field day. The field day will be at the Izaak Walton League grounds on September 11 from 9am until noon. Beginning at noon time, September 11, any newly certified archer or previously certified archer can take the annually required proficiency test, also held at the Ikes grounds. A passing score of 80 percent or more is needed. When all this paperwork is submitted at the Park & Rec. office, the archer gets a new photo ID badge for 2010-11. That ID card allows for the purchase of urban deer licenses at the General Store.
Archery only DEER HUNTING will be allowed again on selected Marshall County Conservation Board lands. A list of areas where the 'refuge' status is waived is available from their office located at the Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm. This is the same process that has been followed for the last 10 years to assist in deer reduction efforts. For those county areas where a hunter may wish to try for deer, any valid deer license issued by the DNR is okay.
The trend line for Iowa's deer herd management is following a slow but steady downward direction. Last year hunters used the mandatory hunter deer reporting system to the tune of 136,504 deer. However, statistical methods by biologists have determined the reporting rate was 84.5 percent. Doing the math one comes up with an actual kill of 161,543 deer.
For 2010-11, the statewide antlerless quota is being increased by 1,300 to 132,900. Antlerless quotas in 14 counties were reduced somewhat to help reflect that deer in those areas are getting closer to management goals. There is an increase to 27 counties, up from 22 last year, of areas without any antlerless tags at all. Marshall County's antlerless quota is now 500, down from 650 last year. Statewide goal of an overall deer herd similar to what existed in the mid 1990s is the objective. In time and with good hunter cooperation, that goal is obtainable.
Are you missing your bike helmet? Two helmets, found in the parking lot, have been turned in at the Conservation Center. Identify them and they will be returned to you.
The theme for the Wednesday, September 1, Nature Story Hour for preschoolers is "Wandering Water". Bring your little ones out from 10 11 a.m. for stories and a short walk outdoors.
Saturday, September 11 is the date for a Canoe/Kayak & Cook program featuring a short float on the Iowa River by canoe or kayak followed by an outdoor cooking demonstration at Three Bridges. Pre-registration is required by September 3 by calling 752-5490. Bring your own canoe or kayak or reserve one through MCCB (single kayak $22.50, double kayak or canoe $27). Cost for cooking demo is $4 per person.
Do you have surplus apples you would like to donate for making apple cider at the Prairie Heritage Day Celebration? If so, MCCB can arrange for volunteers to pick them. The MCCB will be holding both Prairie Heritage Day (September 25) and Halloween Hike (October 23) this year. Both activities also require large numbers of volunteers to conduct the programs. If you would like to help with either of these fun events or have apples to donate, contact Diane Pixler at 752-5490.
Would a fly without wings be called a 'walk'? Hmmm
Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.