CANADA GEESE have hatched their young. Right now, the goslings have grown enough that their legs will support an official Fish and Wildlife leg band. Getting the birds caught to apply the bands is the tricky part. It is fun to watch little people hold a wiggly squirming goose. But once shown how to keep the head tucked under a wing, the goose usually settles down.
Volunteers that want to help, or just watch, should gather at the Gander Lookout Shelter House area by 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Staff of the County Conservation Board and the DNR will direct people into the right places to gently work the birds into a "Y" shaped snow fence funnel. Once the lead goose makes its intentions known to walk into the live trap, all the others will follow just like sheep. The gate is closed and the banding can begin.
Waterfowl banding is a time tested method to help biologists learn how the birds distribute themselves along the flyway over time. Bands returned from hunters is one method of data collection. Additionally, each year some of the adult geese that are caught already have leg bands from previous events. The band number is dutifully recorded for later determination of where and when it was originally banded. A really old goose may have an aluminum band so thin from normal wear that it is about to break and fall off.
T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
A pen full of young canada geese awaited their fate at the Green Castle Recreation Area during last year’s roundup. During late June each year, DNR wildlife staff from Otter Creek Marsh make a stop at Green Castle for banding activities. This Monday at 8:30 a.m., volunteers may come to Green Castle and assist in the capture and banding of the birds. Hint: Wear old clothes and be prepared to have lots of fun.
Late June is an ideal time to band canada geese. The annual molt of flight feathers is well underway. In fact, many of the geese are incapable of flight. A new set of wing feathers by this fall will allow the geese to migrate to warmer climates to our south before winter comes.
This scribe has been asked before ... What birding field guide should I buy? It really is a matter of choice, but I'd go with the National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Next choice would be the Stokes Guide to the Birds of North America. It uses actual photos of each species, male, female and juvenile. Good lighting is the key to get all the field markings properly exposed. There is an extensive text for each species, updated maps and the latest American Ornithological Union (AOU) name changes. It also comes with a CD of bird calls, more than 600 of them. The book has about 800 pages so it is not really a backpack edition. Leave it in the car for reference after a day spent observing. This guide will cost about $25. I'd recommend it. Try the bird and birding store in Ames on Duff, just south of the downtown junction with the UP Railroad. This store specializes in all things birds.
Next weekend will be a busy long holiday through the Fourth of July. Boaters will be out and about on area lakes or rivers. Be advised that the law changed on July 1. Operators of a power boat should be sober, but if not, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be less than 0.08, the same as for operating a motor vehicle on the road. It took several years for the legislature to enact the law and make it consistent with drivers of automobiles.
Boating while intoxicated is not a good thing. Unfortunately each year, someone somewhere doesn't think an accident on the water will happen to them. Conservation officers investigating the incident do not like to pull dead people out of the water. And they sure do not like the task of having to tell family members back on shore that a loved one has perished. All of this grief over too many beers. In 2010, there were 5 boating fatalities and three were alcohol related. Those statistics from previous years tend to follow those same percentages plus or minus. Be responsible and have a designated boat captain who will not be consuming.
Throughout Iowa this weekend, state, federal and local law enforcement will increase water patrols, conduct check point inspections, administer breath tests and check for required safety equipment at popular boating locations. Top boating sites are the Okoboji lake chain, Saylorville Lake and the Mississippi River. Normally the Missouri River is in this list except for this year. By executive order, all the boat ramps to the Missouri are officially closed due to the flooding situation that is ongoing. Boating in flooded waters just adds a huge factor against safe boating.
You may not know this so I'll tell you anyway. Molecules are those special combinations of elements that make up everything. They are very small. How small? Take water for instance. We drink it. It is used to cook foods. We swim in it. And because it rains, the top six inches of soil grows all our food.
Water molecules have two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. If you were able to count all the molecules in a full glass of water, you would get a very large number. That number is larger than if you took all the Earth's oceans and put them into glasses and then counted those glasses.
Mother Nature takes her chemistry lessons seriously. Too bad people don't do the same.
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.