Winter Wildlife Wonders | News, sports, jobs

Pictures by Gary Brandenburg – A winter wonderland of frosty tree limbs helped add magnificence to the panorama final week. Freezing mist/fog allowed moisture to construct up on the timber in a tremendous method. The chance to make new images was the theatre. All of the photographer needed to do was discover a prepared topic or topics to give attention to each the frost and the creature. That is how a bald eagle was noticed close to North Middle Road and allowed me to document some photos taken on my lengthy lens digicam. Then I got here residence whereas observing a again deck feeding station, the nice gentle and compliant Downy woodpeckers allowed me to document extra pure historical past moments. It’s good to see these birds, huge or small, going about their every day lives looking for meals to outlive.

The American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is now a typical sight in winter, spring, summer time, or fall for anybody thinking about watching the skies or tree strains. An enormous-bodied hen sitting on a tree department is at all times value a re-examination.

And if the location lends itself to doing a photograph op, even higher. In in the present day’s image of the eagle perched on a snow-covered department, the whiteness of the snow and the darkness of the tree’s bark have been an ideal match to the whiteness of the eagle’s head and the darkness of the feathers of its physique.

I solely managed to take two pictures of this grownup eagle earlier than it took off in flight, so I tracked it down with my digicam and was fortunate to get some first rate in-flight pictures of this big hen. I do not know if this eagle is male or feminine. Females are bigger and have a wingspan of eight toes.

Males are smaller in physique with a wingspan of six and a half to seven toes. Females can weigh wherever from 12 to 14 lbs. Males are often lower than eight to 10 kilos. If two mature bald eagles are standing subsequent to one another, maybe at a nest website, the male will stand 32 inches and the feminine 42 inches.

Estimates of the full variety of bald eagles hovering within the sky on the time the settlers arrived ranged from 25,000 to 75,000 over the continental United States. The issue with such a large unfold in numbers for this estimate is that the hole is large.

No person actually is aware of what number of there as soon as was. What could be safely stated is that it was lots. What will also be stated is that eagle numbers have declined dramatically resulting from habitat loss and persecution throughout the 200 or so years of settlement actions.

Quick ahead to the current day, and biologists have realized an amazing deal about habitat wants, improved land conservation strategies, and optimistic schooling to the general public in regards to the function that giant avian predators play in wholesome ecosystems. Regular development has been documented in census observations of eagle populations throughout Iowa for the reason that Nineteen Seventies. What was as soon as uncommon is now frequent.

Examination of eagle websites in Iowa, significantly Decorah, Iowa, reveals nest shopping for and lively protection by breeding pairs of bald eagles. Distant cameras monitor actions within the nest on a regular basis.

It’s at all times fascinating to look at the interactions of the vultures as they carry meals to their mate, exchanging duties of incubating the eggs, and later within the spring the younger vultures take part in feeding items of rabbit, fish, duck or different crumbs of pulverized power.

There are about 10 to 12 bald eagle nesting websites in Marshall County. Quickly, these nests would change into the point of interest for a lot eagle exercise.

Nonetheless, throughout the winter months of January and February, Saylorville Lake will host round 100 roosting eagles. Crimson Rock Lake will do the identical.

The open water beneath the dams of those lakes ensures simple recognizing of fish and meals gathering.


The opposite little hen featured in the present day is the little woodpecker. It’s referred to as the Downy Woodpecker.

It’s a small-bodied woodpecker that lives all 12 months in southern Canada and a lot of the decrease 48 states. The quick, sharp beak is used to go looking the hollows of the bark of timber for bugs, and to get into deeper bugs, it – like all woodpeckers – has a protracted tongue for probing areas.

A fast search of biology notes discovered that woodpecker tongues are used as particular instruments for locating hidden meals. The chisel-like invoice can poke holes in woody materials to entry an insect-bearing cavity. The tongue then does the remainder of the work to seek out and extract any edible meals.

Nature photographers attempt every kind of artistic methods to seize the mysteries of birds. It is one factor to get nice photos of a hen, nevertheless it’s fairly one other to get a movement image of a woodpecker inspecting the tongue of a woodpecker as a result of the motion is so quick.

I have been fortunate to catch hummingbirds with their tongue protruding sipping sweetened water at summer season feeders. Catching a Robin whereas pulling an earthworm out of the soil is far simpler stated than accomplished.

Likewise, the duty of seeing a woodpecker’s tongue extract a larva or different insect is a uncommon feat. What’s totally different about woodpecker tongues is the size, with the tongue wrapping behind the cranium and pointing up the beak.

A particular bone referred to as the hyoid is a muscle wrapped within the higher beak. The tissues of the tongue are divided into two components as they move backwards and behind the highest of the cranium, after which progress to the decrease jaw and the beak. The full size of the tongue could be as much as a 3rd of the hen’s physique size though this will differ with different species of woodpecker.

Woodpeckers’ brains are protected by distinctive cranial bone plates and particular spongy bony areas that assist soak up shock and distribute any shock away from the mind. Excessive-speed cameras used to seize slow-motion 3D movies of woodpeckers in motion reveal pecking particulars that will in any other case be too quick for us people.

Woodpeckers pecking at useless tree branches is a technique different woodpeckers can hear the echoing impact of their staccato messages. It’s the equal of human speak, or different birds singing, as different birds are always speaking.

Mom Nature is method smarter than we expect. That is good.


There are some actually nice and thrilling applications coming subsequent month to Grimes Farm and Conservation Centre. The primary is the date of February 14th at midday, really from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, for a program about South Georgia Island.

Photographer Ty Smedes can be displaying his work on a current go to to South Georgia which lies within the South Atlantic Ocean, midway between the tip of South America and Africa. This 100-mile-long island is residence to an estimated 100 million birds.

Photos of Ty could be nice recordings of what he lives on on this particular location. Name MCCB at 641-752-5490 earlier than February 10 to enroll on this free program.


On February twenty second from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, there can be an antler measurement program. This may also be positioned at Grimes Farm.

That is additionally free, however you have to register earlier than February seventeenth as area is restricted. Name 641-752-5490 concerning this program.

Anybody curious as to what consequence an antler set would possibly get and the way that result’s obtained could be thinking about observing the method. The antlers might be from an animal taken final season or a deer taken a very long time in the past. An ancestor might have taken many moons way back.


Gary Brandenburg is the retired Director of Marshall County County Council. Graduated from Iowa State College with a BA in Fish and Wildlife Biology.

Name him at:

PO Field 96

Albion, IA 50005

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