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Outdoors Today

Birds are already thinking spring

Today's featured creature, a COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperi), has been the subject of previous Outdoor Today stories. So I won't try to repeat all the biological fun facts this species has going for it except to say that Mother Nature figured ages ago the proper mix of predators to prey in ...

Goodbye river ice

RIVER ICE has broken up due to the January thaw warmer than average air temperatures over the past week. It is just one of those cycles of nature that we humans get to see, experience and think about. January “thaw” is a term that people for well over a century have placed on a mid winter ...

Eagle eyes watch everything

BALD EAGLES (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are now common sightings for us Central Iowans. Lots of eagles are gathered at places like the open water below Red Rock dam near Pella. Or if you are so inclined, take a road trip to the Mississippi River. Every place along the big river from Harper's ...

Record year for raptor sightings

WINTER is reminding us that it has a full grip on us in the northern hemisphere. If you do not like the weather here, well one can travel to any southern hemisphere destination where it is summer. Or we could join our "snow bird friends" in Arizona, Texas, or Florida. Cold arctic air masses ...

Winter: A long list of things to do

My CARDINAL image was partly good luck. Wildlife photographers have to take what Mother Nature provides regardless of what our human desires may be. But in this case, an ordinary female Cardinal at the feeder station, was chowing down on sunflower seeds when a gust of wind caused her head ...

Look out 2018, here we come

HAPPY NEW YEAR tomorrow. We will say goodbye to 2017 and look forward to an interesting 2018. The future as always has its knowns and unknowns. As outdoor enthusiasts, us human types who love the great outdoors will find numerous ways to accommodate and adapt to each new day of the new year. ...

The First Christmas

It was a clear, cold and starlight night. A blanket of the whitest snow bedded down the valley of the Iowa ... there were no lights from farms or villages ... because there were no farms of villages ... it was 'most two thousand years ago! Like the blanket of snow which covered the valley ... ...

Wonders of Wildlife

WONDERS OF WILDLIFE happen all the time. Sometimes it transpires in front of you without too much effort on your part. Other times a lot of hard work results in making things happen to capture mental memories or better yet, capture images with a camera so those instances of time can be shared ...

Snowy Owl seen near Clemons

A SNOWY OWL (Bubo scandiacus) is this week's featured creature. I feel lucky to be able to document its presence, make many full frame photographic images of it with the a 400 mm lens, and just enjoy seeing this big white raptor. My tip on where to find it came from local birding enthusiast ...

Resident birds adapt to winter

WEATHER dominated this week. Because weather is a un-escapable natural history event, I'm taking the liberty to talk about a bit this week. From a high in the upper 60s to an overnight change to the the teens was a real awakening to the realities of our approaching winter season. While ...

Arney Bend, a green belt treasure

ARNEY BEND is a big place. Its forest habitat, lots of ancient curving but now dry river channels, ponds and prairie fields can get a person temporarily lost. Fortunately the Marshall County Conservation Board has a brochure for this wildlife area to assist hunter, hikers, or photographers ...

Outdoor memories this weekend

WILD TURKEYS (Meleagris gallopavo) are abundant in Iowa. The numbers this author has seen personally while on deer stands, or via my trail camera, attest to the fact that these wild gallinaceous birds had a very successful nesting season during 2017. My sightings range from zero one day to as ...

Waterfowl wait for cold winds

WATERFOWL migrations can be a bit fickle. Where are they now? When will they make a big migration push to show up at any local marshes, ponds, lakes or rivers? Avid waterfowlers want to know. So in this day in age, computer tracking and posts from other waterfowl watchers keeps a fairly good ...

Be informed on new gun deer regulations

GUN DEER SEASONS beginning on Dec. 2-6 and Dec. 9-17 will allow what had been exclusively a shotgun only weapons regulation. That changes for 2017 with the allowance of straight wall ammunition choices. The regulations booklet page 31 lists what is allowed. The regulations are the result of ...

Natural history moments energizing

It is the season when the weather is really unpredictable. Colder air blasting down from the northwest, rain with snow flurries, then followed by a bright sunny day that seems so peaceful. We humans sometimes wonder if Mother Nature is having a hard time making up her mind. I think she likes ...

Pheasant trials and tribulations

RING-NECKED PHEASANTS are highly sought after by hunters young and old. For new young hunters, accompanying a dad, mom, big brother or sister, uncle or aunt, it is a special time to be allowed to participate in a long standing tradition of pursuing wild game. The sights of large grassy fields, ...

Wild and wonderful wetlands

OTTER CREEK MARSH owes its history to many geological events that shaped the flat floodplain land of the Iowa River valley east of the City of Tama. Over thousands of years of time, water leaving the land surface cut the river channel in a series of long meandering twists and turns. As some of ...

Fall is fantastic

FALL is fantastic, fun and an exciting time to be outside. Dress warmly for the conditions of the day and let nature be your instructor, mentor and guide. Some activities are easy to do from the window of your home. Leaf color watching will work. Fall bird migration at the backyard feeder will ...

Same river, two tales

The IOWA RIVER can be tame and docile. Or it can be a rampaging flood of historic proportions. Anyone that has lived long enough in this county knows full well the extremes of water flow in the river. And we all know how quickly the river is capable of responding to heavy rainfall events ...

Mantids: Methodical predators

This week's featured creature in a very large, very long-bodied and long-legged predator from the insect world. It is called the Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis). Only two species, both introduced to North America, known to Iowa. They are the Chinese Mantis and the Carolina ...