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Donate to Chickadee Checkoff

photo by Garry Brandenburg This trumpeter swan pair are resident birds at the Green Castle Recreation Area. They hopefully will bring off a new brood of cygnets this summer. In the meantime, winter season is hunker-down season, to hang out and take it easy, and to go with the flow of whatever winter weather events Mother Nature throws at them. Swan bodies are covered in over 5,000 feathers. And those feathers do a great job of insulating the bird’s body from heat loss. Swans restoration in Iowa is a conservation success story in part because of donations Iowans have made in the past via their Iowa tax returns. Donations to the Fish/Wildlife Fund, also known as the “Chickadee Checkoff” continues to be a huge benefit for many non-game species.

CHICKADEE CHECKOFF time will soon be approaching Iowans during the next several months. So today’s image of trumpeter swans is as good a reminder as one can get of how funds contributed via the Iowa Income Tax reporting forms helps many non-game wildlife species. Iowa DNR biologists have a long list of critters to keep tabs on, as best they can, and to assist where possible in habitat management for non-game animals.

The actual name, or line title on the Iowa Income Tax forms, is Fish/Wildlife Fund. I always donate to this cause primarily because I know how important the work is. And there is no denying that the need for funds is huge. Last year a tad more than 7,200 taxpayers helped boost wildlife conservation work with an average donation amount of $20.39. Statewide that amounted to roughly $150,000. I would urge everyone than can to make a generous gift to the Fish/Wildlife Fund (Chickadee Checkoff). The potential is very large. How large? If every Iowa taxpayer gave just one dollar, that would put $1.5 million into the budget just for non-game wildlife research and management. That is something to think about. Please do your part.

FEBRUARY HAPPENINGS to contemplate while one explores the outdoor world are only as far away as opening your front door. For starters, February daylight is growing longer. On Feb. 1, it will be 10 hours and one minute between sunrise and sunset. By Feb. 28, day length will have increased to 11 hours and 11 minutes. This just proves how the earth’s orbit around the Sun continues to go about its business. It only takes 365.24 days for one earth orbit of the Sun. And this is also why our calendars have a Feb. 29 once every four years.

How about this bit of trivia: We commonly say a day is 24 hours. Actually the day length is 23.9344699 hours long. Don’t use that as an excuse for why you can’t get everything done in one day.

The month of February has these items to consider: On the first, for our friends who live along the Missouri Rive and the Big Sioux River, paddlefish season opens. Feb. 3 in the year 1996 was a tie for the state record low air temperature of -47 F. Birds like cardinals and chickadees sing mating calls from the tree tops. Great horned owls are beginning to sit on nests. Bald eagles have territories set and defended. Nest building or reusing old nests is also a common eagle function this month. Backyard bird counts will be conducted this month. Check various web sites to determine how to participate. Feb. 14 the walleye fishing season closes on Iowa’s Great Lakes regions. Mid month it will be possible to see the return of turkey vultures if snow cover on the ground has melted to expose carcasses of winter killed wildlife. Feb. 28 is the close of rabbit hunting season.

On Feb. 12, 1875 a meteor struck near Amana leaving behind 800 pounds of fragments, some bigger than others, but many parts were found. The University of Iowa geology department has several of these outer space rocks on exhibit.

MEETING TIME for hunters and trappers input was given in face-to-face regional meetings. Lots has changed since then, including how meetings are held due to COVID-19 issues. So we have to adapt and still get the information gathered and input received. The Iowa DNR will host a virtual meeting on Feb. 23, beginning at 6:30 pm, to review recently completed hunting and trapping seasons, discuss possible changes to rules and regulations, and allow time for additional Q and A related to these topics.

Todd Bishop, DNR chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Bureau said “we want people to attend, listen to the reviews, ask questions and hear directly from the staff. Potential rule changes and collection comments is how the DNR agency must work through the rules process.”

To sign up for this virtual meeting, hunters and trappers are encouraged to a DNR zoom web site. The online address is long and complicated. So to be sure and make that process easier, prior to the virtual meeting, do a bit of looking at the DNR general website to get that address. By signing up in advance, you will be sent a confirmation email with instructions on how to join into the meeting on Feb 23.

SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS applications for young folks contemplating a conservation or environmental stewardship related fields of study post high school, or in the process of obtaining an undergraduate degree, may want this heads-up notice put to good use. The Marshall County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League has an endowment fund from the Piper Family. Through this mechanism, the Ikes may grant financial assistance to students who qualify. Local high school career advisors will soon be getting information for the 2021 award. Just note that the deadline to apply is March 15. Applicants who qualify will be notified on or before April 15.

How about these facts about our almost spherical earth: It is not a perfect sphere. The name applied to it is oblate spheroid. As it rotates on its axis, this molten centered, thin crusted celestial planet bulges a bit at its equator. This makes the diameter measurement at the poles 7,899.86 miles. The diameter if measured at the equator is 7,926 miles. Therefore the mean diameter is 7,915.5 miles. Try these facts on for size at a discussion about not so trivial trivia.

Garry Brandenburg is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology.

Contact him at:

P.O. Box 96

Albion, IA 50005

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