"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Attention: Bird And Frog Watchers
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

If you are a nature bug--or even a hunter or fisherman--the Hoosier state now is offering a premier attraction of sandhill cranes . . . some 10,000 of them, dancing and prancing before your very eyes. It isn’t a strange, unusual natural phenomenon (it happens every fall about this time), but it is something that will set your heart to pounding in wonderment at the works of Mother Nature.
The cranes are at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area (J-P) now for all to see . . . and it is free. Earlier this fall there were said to be 12,000 of the huge migrating birds on their migration to wintering grounds. Some are expected to be at J-P until the second week in December. They are well worth seeing.

Jim Bergens, property manager, says the best time to be there is at sunrise or sunset. However, good bird viewing conditions may come at any time. J-P has an observation area. Birds may be seen at close ranges or up to 200 yards.
Bergens also says many of the birds go out to feed in the surrounding area. Adult males and females are much the same in color, the female being somewhat smaller. Males run 40 to 50 inches tall and are mostly gray with a red patch of bare skin on the head with black legs.

Finding J-P is easy. Just take Highway 421 north from Lafayette to a point just south of the north boundary of Jasper County and turn west on road 143. J-P is very close.

Gasoline prices being what they are, the Indiana Wildlife Federation has arranged a group trip for viewing the big birds for Saturday, November 10. More details for that are available by calling 317-875-9453. The tab is $35 for non-members, free for members. 

FROG WATCHERS--Central Indiana Frog Watchers (CIFW) will stage its monthly meeting at Camp Cullom Nature Center at 7 p.m. November 14. Camp Cullom is on Clinton County Road 200 North near Frankfort.
And what, pray tell, is the CIFW? You may ask in jest.
Well, the CIWF is a group of volunteers who listen, and watch, frogs and toads in their own communities and report their observations (and what they hear) to scientists in an effort to learn more about their declines in recent years in the length and breadth of the country.
Frogs and toads (and some other amphibians) have taken the samer road, you know, that the passenger pigeon traveled to extinction many years ago. If that’s not enough to get your undivided attention, we are daily losing many other species.     

Many of our country’s once-thriving frog and toad populations have declined dramatically. Today, even previously abundant species can be hard to find. The degradation and destruction of wetland habitat and increased air and water pollution contributes to their decline. Since amphibians can serve as “canaries in a coal mine”--indicators of larger, broader environmental problems--it is essential that we have a better understanding of our amphibian crisis.

Frogwatch USA was created by the National Wildlife Federation to meet that need. It gives gives citizens across the country--young and old alike--an opportunity to be directly involved in gathering the information that can ultimately lead to practical and workable ways to help stop the decline of these important species.

Frogwatch USA is also a great was for parents, teachers and youth group leaders to teach children about nature. It is not only a great way to help wildlife in your community, but also a great way to experience nature with its future stewards.

Speaker for the November 14 meeting will be Dr. Michael Finkler, Indiana University Kokomo. Dr. Finkler has a wide range of field experience in Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana. His topic will delve into spring mating habits of salamanders. 

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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