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
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
-- 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.