Saturday, July 29, 2017

Matching Birds to the Habitat

Hungarian Patridge Ohio

Climate change debates aside, the environment has changed radically in the last 150 years in North America when immigrant species arrive. The first of these and most disruptive are obviously humans. From farming to controlling fires to altering river beds the impact can't be ignored. In Ohio, and western Ohio specifically, a change was profound and impacted a number of game birds.

This is taken from the Ohio Journal of Science, March 1956. "Ohio was originally 95 percent forested. Today a relatively small percentage of the state is in forest. This drastic change in landscape naturally affects the game of the state. The wild turkey and prairie chicken disappeared; the ruffed grouse became scarce and is presently restricted to southeastern and eastern Ohio; the bobwhite quail expanded its range, and none of the prairie grouse immigrated from the west into the newly created open lands of Ohio."

The turkey has obviously made a comeback, while ruffed grouse have decidedly not. Habitat plays the deciding factor, but that's not the complete story. If anybody is left that Regals in the glories of bobwhite quail hunting in the old days, they should know the actual truth: "The bob white quail is close to its northern limit in Ohio; it has never consistently occurred in large numbers in this state, and it has been protected from hunting since 1912."

The Hungarian Partridge in Ohio

The solution then was the introduction of non-native species that adapt to the habitat. Specifically ring-necked pheasants and Hungarian partridge. The ring-necked proved adaptable and became well-established and self-sustaining. Covey Hungarian did for a time, then dropped off. They seem to thrive in the west on big spaces. It would be interesting to see how they could adapt to the modern farming practices today around western Ohio that create huge expanses of open spaces.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Frog Pointer

After three years in the yard, Jurgen has suddenly become interested in frogs for some reason. Pointing obviously too close, but with a headlamp, he might be useful. Then again, probably not.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cicadas Buffett

Last spring in Eastern Ohio marked one of the largest regular cicada hatches, the Brood V 17 year hatch. While at the time it made for an ever-present din for a few weeks, the long-term effect is on other wildlife.

From bass to opossums to turkeys, the cicadas create a veritable smorgasbord in life and death. This is especially beneficial for young of the year. Translation, the next couple of years should provide excellent turkey populations. With luck, and where I am most interested, is it can help our struggling grouse populations at all. They really need it.

Cicada Lifecycle

 What Brood V Looked Like in Ohio

Friday, March 3, 2017

Most Challenging Gamebird ...

Turkeys aren't as bright as crows, that's understood. But they do adhere to strict hierarchies. That makes me curious about the thought processes from the leader to the lowest member with this behavior.

Found via:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sportsmen—Hang On To Public Land Access

Public lands are unique to America and make America unique. It was because of the foresight of a previous generation of leaders, Muir and T. Roosevelt, that we have these opportunities today. They faced many of the same challenges we face today, from the same factions with the same dialog. They're back again and will try to move quickly and disguise what is actually happening. Don't be fooled. 

From the group leading the charge, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

"In 1912, Roosevelt said, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.” While in the political arena, he succeeded in making conservation a top-tier national issue. T.R. had the foresight to address these issues still so significant to sportsmen today, understanding that if we want to safeguard critical habitat, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations, we must plan carefully today."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Turns Out, Common Ground is Common Ground – Trump and Non-Trump Voters Agree

trump and non-trump voters agree on public land
Madison County, Montana (Creative Commons license)
You suspected it might be true, but now there's proof. Article excerpted in it's entirety, access the complete article here:

"Respondents in western states want land protected, access for recreation, oppose increased fossil fuel development 

Updated to include response from Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

If bitter political fighting is tearing your Facebook feed apart at the seams, take heart. There’s at least one issue that does more to unite than divide voters in the western United States; public lands.

Polling from seven western states shows Democrats, Republicans and independent voters have similar interests when it comes to federally managed public land. The poll, conducted through the Colorado College State of the Rockies project and led by Democratic and Republican consultants, measured the attitudes of voters in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. And the results showed that, despite the volume of political vitriol on social media, most people who responded want the same thing.

“The overwhelming sentiment voters are expressing is wanting to protect and preserve public lands,” said David Metz, the Democratic pollster on the project.

“It was more striking where we saw agreement than where we saw big differences,” Republican pollster Lori Weigel said."

Read the complete article here:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Monarch Rising in the North

In many respects, the Monarch Butterfly is the canary in the coal mine for North American prairies. They are species with an amazing life story that relies on a variety of interdependent connections throughout its migration. But at the end of the day, they are dependent on the Milkweed. Because of that, gaps in prairie conditions (the same gaps that can lead to trapped and zombie populations of other native species – can be especially trying for Monarchs.

The great swaths of tall grass prairie are few and far between. Milkweed has been cursed as a weed. Clean farming techniques have wiped out ditches and "dirty" fencerows that used to at least harbor pockets of the necessary plant.

That's what lead this group, Monarch Rising, in Fitchburg, WI to take action.

From their website:

"Rooted in Fitchburg, WI, Monarch Rising is a public effort and awareness to keep Monarch Butterflies from becoming extinct. 
- Increase awareness
- Plant Milkweed
- Create Monarch way-stations"
Sometimes, it really is that simple to do good for a species as the second bullet: "plant milkweed." To that end, their site even makes it possible to buy Milkweed seeds to start your own Monarch way-station. That will benefit all pollinators, upland prairie species, and the entire ecosystems that depend on them. That includes us.
You can learn more through these links: