"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Spring Is A Comin'!
Copyright © 2009 by Bill Scifres

Well, I saw the first chipmunk of the spring yesterday (Sunday, March 8) and while the weather folks are telling us spring could take some time in getting here, I think otherwise.

I’m not saying the snow is over for the spring -- predictions are guess work when frigid air currents collide with clouds from the southwest--but I have always believed that the critters know more about coming storms than the weather guys on TV and elsewhere.

A short time back I was seeing great flocks of ducks and Canada geese (it’s Canada, not Canadian geese) coming to the White River behind the house. Now they come in pairs, which indicates they are either nesting or nest-site hunting. Nests usually are on the ground, but some find higher spots to hatch the five or six usual number of eggs. They could produce more, and it takes 25 to 30 days to hatch them.

Although our Division of Fish and Wilflife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife is currently supporting (organizing) the wrecking of Canada goose nests (their charge be damned), details will not appear in this column.

Incidentally, for some four years, I have devoted this column to how a northern Indiana outdoorsman and conservationist has spooked Canada geese from an area with lengths of garden hose with corncob heads, but so far as I have heard this has not been tried by the goose nest wreckers.

It may be that the DNR boys are just very selective in selecting reading matter.  

The wood ducks have not yet returned. They are strong indicators of warmer weather because woodies do not like cold weather. Still holed up in winter lairs on the river bank behind the house are groundhogs, also an omen of warmer weather. Kingfishers are not yet rattling their chains, either, although I thought I saw one of our residents flying low as if looking for a steep earthen bank in which to dig a nest tunnel. Their chain-rattle call is extremely prevalent prior to mating as males, females communicate while fishing.

H.B. 1585 -- The bill that would, if passed, usurp the right of the Department of Natural Resources to establish bag limits on deer in some counties, is still under consideration by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. It originated in the house and was passed there, 79-13.

WEEDS AND $$ -- I have been on this kick since 2003 (actually dating back to the 1950s) and I fear the subject is broken recordish, so if Mitch is serious about fiscal matters, I can steer him to 5 or 6 million bucks (they're not deer) for the state coffers.

The state is mowing weeds on the berms of something like 11 thousand miles of roads (22,000 if you mow both sides), and the political hacks (no pun intended) with tractors and cutting bars are “making hay” in more ways than one. All the Governor has to say to put the kibosh on mowing is “STOP!” and presto, instant habitat, more water in the earth. After all, weeds are not a bad place to raise wild critters and keep moisture in the earth for adjacent fields. Some weeds -- say chicory, daisies and the lot--are even pretty.

Furthermore, patches of broom sedge (sage) on roadsides should be protected with a passion like you’ve never seen.

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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