The COMMON GOLDENEYE, (Bucephala clangula americana), is named for the yellow iris of its eye, a very distinctive detail of identification. Males of this species also have a small white circular patch below the eye on their cheek. A dark green head full of feathers gives way to a body that is mostly white. Just like their name implies, this bird is common, a species of least concern according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. They range across the entire lower 48 states each winter and use the full breath of Alaska and all of Canada for summer breeding territory. Canadian boreal forests, especially with lakes or deep marshes, have substantial invertebrate populations.
Goldeneyes are cavity nesters, using hollow sites within trees to hide and protect their clutches. They have a strong homing tendency and are known to use the same cavity for many years in a row. Nest holes in trees are usually near water, however, nests have been discovered up to one mile away in woodlands a long way from water. They will even use wood duck nest boxes or old wood pecker holes to lay a clutch of up to nine eggs. The overall population of goldeneyes is hard to accurately estimate. However, reliable waterfowl experts say 1.25 million are very likely in North America.
Since 1934, Federal Duck Stamps sales have increased more than $850 million, helping the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service purchase or lease 6 million acres of wildlife habitat on hundreds of refuges in nearly every state. There are 560 Nation Wildlife Refuges spread across 50 states and U.S. territories.
T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
This mounted specimen of a Common Goldeneye is the featured waterfowl on the new 2013 –14 Federal Duck Stamp. The artist who won the intense competition of submitted art is Robert Steiner, of San Francisco, Calif. On sale now at the Marshalltown post office, your $15 will help build the total this year of nearly $25 million for conservation work on wetland habitats. Waterfowl hunters age 16 or older are required to purchase and carry a current Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp – commonly called the Federal Duck Stamp. This purchase is also valid as a free admission ticket to any National Wildlife Refuge.
Artists submitting their artwork have an intense love for the subject and an eye for detail expressed by their paint brushes. One hundred ninety-two entries were submitted. Of these, only 17 made it to the final round after a two-day round of judging. Paul Bridgeford, of Des Moines, placed second with his acrylic painting of Northern Shovelers. Eligible species for painting this last go-around included Brant, Canada goose, common goldeneye, northern shoveler and ruddy duck.
"Whether you buy a Duck Stamp to hunt waterfowl, add to your collection, admire in a frame or contribute to conservation, you are buying a piece of history," said Jerome Ford, the service's assistant director for migratory birds. "For nearly 80 years, hunters, wildlife watchers and millions of other people who purchase Federal Duck Stamps have made a direct contribution to wildlife conservation through protection of habitats." And as this scribe tells each local class of hunter education students, when habitat is protected, managed for conservation, lots and lots of non-game critters with fur or feathers also benefit.
The post office is one place to make this purchase. One can also do this online at www.fws.gov/duckstamp/stamps.htm. This scribe urges you to do just that. Make a difference. Buy a Federal Duck Stamp. Thank you.
In last week's column about grass, I noted the extensive range of grass types that can be found worldwide. Well I have a better number for you now. It is more than 11,000 species! Grasses are plants very well adapted to dryer environments. Such is the case for all of north central North America since the natural warming of the land; we have come out of the last glacial a maximum of 14,000 years ago. Grass knows how to survive. As rainfall lessens and temperatures increase after a glacial system wanes, physiological drought-tolerant species do well. They have higher rates of water and carbon dioxide exchange than intolerant species. The bottom line is native prairie plants in general are highly tolerant of drought.
PRAIRIE ROOTS are the focus of a new exhibit at the Conservation Center on Thursday at the Conservation Center at the Grimes Farm. From 6 to 8 p.m., a program will be offered to the public on the unique system of roots from native grass. This will become a new permanent display at the center. To help celebrate this occasion, bison loose meat burgers will be served beginning at 6 p.m. A freewill offering is asked. At 6:30, the UNI Biology Department personnel will talk about prairie roots and the work that went into the display. After all that, a prairie walk will take place along the trails of restored prairie plantings at the Grimes Farm. Be there to learn about our roots.
WILDLIFE NEWS: In Minnesota, the far northern part, this spring, a man and his daughter were motor boating back to a public landing. They spotted something on the water surface. A gull was standing on it. As they got closer, it became clear what it was. A large 37-inch- long northern was dead, floating at the surface. In its mouth was a sucker, estimated to be about 3 pounds. The northern had attacked and tried to swallow the sucker. However, the prey was a bit too large for the predator's throat. Both fish died as a result. It bit off more than it could chew.
Another wildlife news item: An all-white deer has made periodic appearances west of Solon. People out walking or driving by have hoped to be in the right place at the right time to see this all-white white-tailed deer. This is a mature deer without antlers so one can assume it is a doe. During early evening hours, she sometimes appears in a hayfield for a supper time treat. The fawn seen with her from time to time has regular brown and white spots of a young deer. Biologists say the odds of an all-white, true albino deer is at least 1 in 100,000 (or more). Partially-white deer are seen periodically in Iowa. They go by the name piebald for the half-and-half-type coloration of their fur coat. Iowa law states a predominately white deer is off limits to hunting, the result of emotions overriding biological facts when it came to legislation. So it is.
Adults wanting to avail themselves of HUNTER EDUCATION COURSES can do so online, at their convenience. Use either of these websites to access the course material and take the quizzes: www.Huntercourse.com/usa/iowa or www.hunter-ed.com/iowa/. Megan Wisecup, hunter education administrator for the Iowa DNR, said we will continue to offer the traditional classes and field days for younger students and others who have not had any history or familiarity with sporting firearms safety or hunting situations. Anyone desiring to hunt, who was born after January 1, 1972, is required to complete hunter education in order to purchase an Iowa hunting license.
For your funny bone: You need only two tools in life WD 40 and duct tape. It doesn't move and should, use WD40. If is shouldn't move and does, use duct tape.
Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.