Submitted by Nancy Runner
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PARKING LOT SCREAMS
“What is that screaming sound coming from the parking lot?” I wondered.
I hurried from my apartment to meet my friend Joan, who had just arrived in Weston from Milwaukee. I planned to help carry in her belongings. In the parking lot, I was amazed to see a bird flying into the air about 10 feet above Joan’s head, and then dive bomb straight as an arrow down toward her. There was that scream again! Now there were two birds flying at her. Then I spied the problem. Joan’s car was parked next to a sapling, less than 7 feet tall. On a lower branch, easily within reach, was a cup-sized nest. The parents were defending their home.
“Joan, you are parked next to a nest!”
Joan handed me her suitcase, waving one arm to fend off the birds, and I scurried a short distance away, ducking my head.
“I’ll move my car,” she said, jumping hurriedly into the front seat as one of the parent birds soared high into the air, ready to dive bomb again. A safe distance away, Joan and I finished unloading, laughing about her shrieks in the parking lot.
“I can’t believe I screamed like that!” Joan said.
We explored Janke Book Store later that afternoon. Joan picked up a copy of “Birds of Wisconsin,” by Stan Tekiela. We thumbed through it, looking for a medium-sized gray bird with a white breast. Ah! The eastern kingbird. It can be found throughout Wisconsin during the summer. We read, “Perceived as having an attitude, acting unafraid of other birds and chasing larger birds. Bold behavior gives them their common nickname of ‘king.’”
“It’s got an attitude, all right,” Joan chuckled, as she purchased the book, a nice souvenir of her central Wisconsin experience in an apartment parking lot.
In the “Readers Write” column of the February 2014 issue, two readers sent photographs of sphinx moths feeding on flowers. I just wanted to add a postscript to those letters and suggest another possibility for catching these interesting creatures in action.
In the summer, we maintain several sugar-water feeders for the ruby-throated hummingbirds that frequent our country property. One evening last summer, just as the last light of day was fading, we were sitting on our deck a short distance from the feeders. As I looked out at the feeders, I thought I saw shapes flitting around them. I knew the ruby throats were in bed by this time, so I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me in the low light.
I walked over to one of the feeders and was completely surprised to see that the flying “ghosts” were sphinx moths, and they were feeding on the sugar water, hovering with their proboscises extended into the plastic flowers on the feeder bases. The moths had figured out the feeders and were taking full advantage of this unnatural bounty.
Perhaps it was the darkness, but our presence did not bother the moths. We could stand a foot away and they continued to sip the sugar water, and I was able to get a few flash photos.
So, if you have both nectar-bearing flowers and hummingbird feeders, keep an eye on both of them at dusk and you might double your moth-viewing pleasure.
We were coming back from a walk when we heard a noise. We looked up to see where the noise was coming from. To our astonishment, we saw a full grown buck leaping across the road. My mother yelled to my sister to stop walking as to not get trampled. This was an amazing event to be seen.
ARE TALL BUILDINGS A THREAT?
Love your magazine. I’m a long-time subscriber. When reading a column in the February issue (Readers Write, “Wildlife and wind turbines”), regarding the turbines being bad for flying birds, a question came to mind. Has anyone ever considered or commented on the devastating effect of the zillion tall buildings with all windows, extending into the sky? Millions of birds must die from flying into them. If they do, it’s a wonder that any birds survive at all. I have a sliding glass door that a bird has flown into. Now I keep a sheer curtain closed over it to help.
We have carried a couple of stories in the past about threats to songbirds from communication towers (“Battered by the airwaves,” February 2000) and windows (“Threshold of pane,” April 2006). The American Bird Conservancy estimates that 6.8 million birds are killed in North America each year from colliding with towers and perhaps up to a billion are killed when they fly into windows. Homeowners can take steps to prevent birds from flying into windows by taping, painting or applying decals to the outside. Visit the American Bird Conservancy website at abcbirds.org and search “windows.”
BRULE IS “PRESIDENT’S RIVER”
I read your article (“Back in the day”) in the April 2014 issue. Although I found the article of great interest, I was somewhat disappointed that you chose to only highlight the celebrities that fished the waters of the northeastern part of the state. I think that the region along the Brule River in Douglas County also contains an interesting story based on the celebrities that have fished this famous trout stream, including a sitting President! I hope you will follow up on not only the Northwestern part of the state, but on the entire state. I enjoy the magazine and I pass it on for others to read as well. Keep the stories interesting and diverse.
We strive to find stories of interest for all our readers, so thanks for pointing out the significance of the Brule River. It has been called the “President’s River” because it has drawn four presidents (Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Grover Cleveland, and Dwight D. Eisenhower) to fly-fish the steelhead and other trout that love its clear, cold water.
REGULATE DEVELOPMENT TO PROTECT TURTLES
Interesting article about turtles (“Wisconsin turtle populations at a crossing,” April 2014). We could do a lot to save our aquatic and other wildlife simply by changing building codes to require roadways and buildings to maintain a 100-200 meter distance from waterways. It would be easiest to implement by forbidding new buildings and development and prohibiting rebuilding destroyed buildings. Obviously it could not be done everywhere, but it would be a great help merely to prevent new construction.
Since Menomonie’s downtown area and highway run adjacent to the lake (albeit quite some distance uphill, a factor which has prevented much lakeshore development, thankfully) it is not unusual for really large snappers to appear on the road attempting to get to nesting areas which don’t exist because of the human developments. This is a fairly common situation in the state and I’m wondering what one should do with such turtles as moving them across the road doesn’t get them to a nesting area, but rather into a web of streets and buildings where they are increasingly likely to be injured?
Conservation Biologist Andrew Badje replies: Most female turtles will instinctively seek out their natal nesting grounds and can be quite persistent regardless of the obstacle. The best way to help counter this behavior is to construct fencing that prevents turtles from accessing dangerous areas and guides them into safer and more suitable nesting areas. If none exist, then construction of an underpass in conjunction with fencing can help turtles safely reach their historic nesting grounds. When coupled with fencing, strategically-located artificial nesting areas can serve as another nesting option. Usage of these areas, however, may require some time for turtles to adapt to them.
I thought this was an adorably great picture to share. This is Grandpa Rick Feavel getting a chance to share a big moment with his grandson, Oliver Feavel. They caught the fish on Lake Butte des Morts. Grandma Peg McDaniel took the photo. Rick has fished and hunted since he was young so this was an amazing moment to share with his grandson. Rick has a cabin up north and has enjoyed living on the lake for 25 years. He and Peg are nature lovers through and through, which is why this picture is such a big moment for both of them.
I really enjoy Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. I have something that may be of interest to you. It is a red belt fungus that I found in northern Wisconsin when hunting some years ago. A book I have says they grow 2 to 16 inches wide. Mine measures 26 ½ inches wide and about 11 inches high when on edge. My nephew (Robbie Wand, Gratiot) drew a beautiful wildlife picture of two deer on the white underside with a wood burner. I have it mounted on a removable shelf and keep it covered most of the time.