Allan Bell’s Birch Bark Nature Notes revisited: Bluejays everywhere
Hunters sometimes take much abuse for killing ducks and geese, ruffed grouse, pheasants, deer and other game birds and animals. The bottom line is…they are the ones who have been paying the freight. Duck hunters, through duck stamps and donations to Ducks Unlimited, are largely responsible for the saving of many wetlands and breeding areas. Other hunters, through similar organizations and license fees, help perpetuate their own special type of hunting.
Birdwatchers, berry pickers, walkers, joggers, hikers, mushroom lookers, nature lovers and all of us who enjoy the outdoors now have a chance to help protect and care for Wisconsin’s endangered and unhunted wildlife. On your new state income tax form you will find a line to make a voluntary contribution to assist wildlife.
Your donation will help the loons, eagles, barn owls, bluebirds, rare flowers, animals, fish and other endangered species. Make yourself feel good! Invest in a wild Wisconsin! Keep Wisconsin wild! Return a gift to wildlife!
The Wisconsin DNR is cooperating with the National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a nationwide census of bald eagles. We are concerned with those wintering in Wisconsin. You can help. There must be 10,000 eyes around Tomahawk. Turn them skyward. Look for that big brown sailplane with the white head and tail. If you spy any between Jan. 2 and Jan. 16, please give me a call at 453-2739 (afternoons and evenings). Or drop a card to N8429 Hwy. 107.
I was visiting at the Osten Osero home and keeping one eye on their bird feeder as we talked. There was a female cardinal! And there was a male! Osten said the pair had been there since last spring. Nesting apparently was unsuccessful as no young were seen. That red coat sure stands out against the white snow. I stayed overnight at Lance and Karen’s in Spring Green last week. As soon as it got light, the cardinals were there for their free lunch, just on the other side of the patio doors, making for excellent viewing.
Also at the lunch counter were about 25 juncos and goldfinches. I haven’t had either at my feeder for several weeks. Did they go to Spring Green for the winter? Earlier, in the fall, someone asked what those small birds were that showed the white outer tail feathers as they flew away. I guessed junco; they said no, juncos are dark, charcoal colored. I had to agree.
A few days later as I watched them feeding on the ground under the sunflower seed feeder, I woke up. Very likely, the birds seen were female and/or immature juncos which are much lighter in color, dusky, brownish, definitely not blackish. The immature even have streaked breasts, resembling sparrows, and the folded wings even seemed to have a hint of yellow.
One of the colder days we had a couple weeks ago, everyone sent their bluejays to my house. They must have. There were 10 of them in the flowering crab at once, taking turns to gobble up sunflower seeds in the nearby feeder. The purple finches either became hungry enough or brave enough to go right inside the large glass jar feeder after sunflower seeds. The Chickadees go in, grab a seed and zip to the pine trees. The purple finches just stayed right in the jar and filled their bellies in comfort – out of the weather and with a window to the world.
I spent an enjoyable hour at the Vilas Park Zoo in Madison last week. It’s easy to get to, there’s plenty of parking and it’s free. You can run in for a few minutes or spend hours. I’m surprised at the number of big cats they have. A lion and lioness, four Siberian tigers and two jaguars.
The orangutans were fascinating. Two babes were clinging to their mothers, one quite helpless, the other agile and peppy. According to the signs one was 3 months old, the other 9 months old. The smaller of the two had little hair, with olive-colored skin and looked awfully skinny to me.
Many beautiful tropical birds are close at hand in a well-lit environment. Brilliantly colored parrots, macaws and toucans make one wonder how and why there can be so many different kinds. Stop and spend an hour or two. Take the kids, they’ll love it. So will you.
Late nature writer Allan Bell wrote this Birch Bark Nature Notes column for the Tomahawk Leader back on Jan. 4, 1984. In revisiting some of Bell’s insightful work we can appreciate all those wild critters that visit our birdfeeders as well as those that can be seen in a zoo.