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Outdoors Today

Sandhill Cranes are links to nature’s survival schemes

By GARRY BRANDENBURG SANDHILL CRANES ( Grus canadensis) are large, vocal and spectacular. They are long-lived and have a very slow recruitment rate. Their young, just one or two per pair per year means that in any given larger population, only 10 to 15 percent of the birds are juveniles. Young ...

Nature is open for enjoyment

HOUSE FINCHES are quite common. They add a nice flurry of color and variety to bird observation stations like the one this scribe keeps near his dining room window. As this species, and lots of other year round resident birds, plus new arrivals from now and into May, bird observation is an ...

DEER CLASSIC still classy

IOWA’S DEER CLASSIC has come and gone for 2020. Last weekend was the time when many thousands of enthusiasts came to Des Moines and descended upon the Events Center to see everything deer related. They were not disappointed. More than 450 exhibitors had set up booth spaces to highlight ...

Watershed facts and figures

By GARRY BRANDENBURG WATERSHEDS are defined as the land area where water all drains toward a central point or at a place where it ends at the junction with another drainage system. All rainfall events add water to the watershed. Not all water that falls runs off. Most of the precipitation will ...

Birds are getting ready for Spring

MARCH is here, a month of transition in regards to the weather and month when lots of birds begin to infiltrate the airways for the upcoming northward migration. White-fronted geese are just one species that will grace the airways soon. Today’s image of white-fronts at Lake Red Rock is ...

Bald Eagles defend nest sites

BALD EAGLES (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are quite common in central Iowa now. It wasn’t always that way 20 or 30 years ago. This magnificent raptor has made a come back from its former threatened status. While Marshall County residents might see an eagle or two in any farm field, open water ...

Ducks Unlimited banquet Feb. 29th

DUCKS UNLIMITED members of the local Iowa River Chapter will gather for the annual fundraising banquet on Feb. 29 at the Impala Ballroom in Marshalltown. People can expect fine food, a list of door prizes, an excellent array of auction items and games to play and at least 17 sporting firearms ...

Great Western Interior Seaway tells lots of stories

BY GARRY BRANDENBURG The GREAT WESTERN INTERIOR SEAWAY existed a long long time ago. To gain an improved perspective about this aspect of North American geologic history, adjust your way-back time clock machine to the last half of the Cretaceous Period of about 108 to 66 million years ago. ...

Winter wildlife viewing opportunities

WINTER WILDLIFE comes in all sizes and shapes. Of course there are the backyard bird feeder visitors for resident feathered species. On a larger scale are wild turkeys whose big dark bodies stand out prominently against a background of snow covered fields. Look for them along field edges. And ...

A visit to Loess Bluffs NWR

LOESS BLUFFS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE is a good place to visit at any time of the year. It can be become spectacular with several hundred thousand geese each spring around mid March. However, even in mid January, the refuge is far from a sterile environment. On the day my wife and I visited ...

Wintering populations of Trumpeter Swans increasing

BY MIKE STEGMANN Wintering populations of Trumpeter Swans are increasing annually all across Iowa thanks to restoration efforts of the species by wildlife management personnel across the continent. Throughout this fall and up until recently as many as 20 Trumpeter Swans have been residing ...

Top 7 natural resource New Year’s resolutions for 2020

TIMES-REPUBLICAN If you’ve made it this far with your New Year’s resolutions, congratulations. But like most people, the motivation will inevitably start to falter on this very day. According to an analysis by the athletic social media company Strava, Jan. 12 is the exact date when ...

Seventeen swans rest at Sand Lake

TRUMPETER SWANS (Cygnus buccinator) are big, beautiful and in a class by themselves in terms of holding title to being North America’s heaviest flying bird. Iowa has participated for many past decades in a program to reintroduce these swans back to a landscape they once called home prior to ...

Raptor counting an annual undertaking

BIRDS OF PREY can be as large as bald or golden eagles or as small as kestrels. Between these largest and smallest are more mid-sized predators of the airways. What they have in common is that they are all predatory birds shaped by Mother Nature to fill an ecological niche. Their job is to ...

Iowa River winter wildlife all around us

YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER WOODPECKER (Sphyrapicus varius) is the featured creature of the day today. You may see one or several at your bird feeding station or none at all. If you do, consider yourself fortunate that this bird is even around for you to inspect. Most of its buddies are in places ...

Ready or not here comes winter

WINTER is officially one week away. Snow on the ground mid week told us otherwise. Yes it is still very late Fall but if it feels like winter and looks like winter, then you or I are free to call it whatever you want. Be careful the words you use however. Astronomers like to key in facts that ...

Trees: Valuable in many ways

TREES are valuable in many ways. They cover large portions of earth’s surface and by their very existence, create life, sustain life, hold and filter water and air and provide products for people to use. Trees grow and die just like any other living thing. But their seeds, fruits and even ...

Pheasant make themselves secretive

PHEASANTS are a hardy bird if given half a chance by both good habitat and good weather. In order to survive, this species needs lots of both factors. Later than usual farm crop harvest conditions may be one factor in hunter’s not seeing many pheasants on opening day. That will all change ...

How old is that deer?

HOW OLD IS MY DEER? I tried to answer this question many times during my working career with the Marshall County Conservation Board 1972-2004. It is a easy question to ask and it deserves as honest an answer as possible. Hunters would sometimes bring their deer to the shop and ask for an ...

October is prime time to be outdoors

OCTOBER is prime time to be outdoors. So many transitions are taking place in nature during the fall season. Cooler weather tops the list. Farmers grain fields are progressing toward harvest. Tree leaves will soon burst forth is a wide array of colors. Nut bearing trees like walnut, hickory, ...