Winter Wildlife Wonders | News, sports, jobs

Images 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 means. The chance to make new pictures was the theatre. All of the photographer needed to do was discover a keen topic or topics to deal with each the frost and the creature. That is how a bald eagle was noticed close to North Heart Road and allowed me to file some footage taken on my lengthy lens digital camera. Then I got here house whereas observing a again deck feeding station, the great gentle and compliant Downy woodpeckers allowed me to file extra pure historical past moments. It’s good to see these birds, huge or small, going about their every day lives in the hunt for meals to outlive.

The American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is now a standard sight in winter, spring, summer season, or fall for anybody excited about watching the skies or tree strains. A giant-bodied chook sitting on a tree department is all the time price a re-evaluation.

And if the positioning lends itself to doing a photograph op, even higher. In at the moment’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 digital camera and was fortunate to get some first rate in-flight pictures of this big chook. I do not know if this eagle is male or feminine. Females are bigger and have a wingspan of eight ft.

Males are smaller in physique with a wingspan of six and a half to seven ft. Females can weigh anyplace 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 web site, the male will stand 32 inches and the feminine 42 inches.

Estimates of the overall 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 mentioned is that it was loads. What can be mentioned is that eagle numbers have declined dramatically because of habitat loss and persecution through the 2 hundred or so years of settlement actions.

Quick ahead to the current day, and biologists have discovered an incredible deal about habitat wants, improved land conservation strategies, and optimistic schooling to the general public concerning 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 Seventies. What was as soon as uncommon is now widespread.

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

It’s all the time attention-grabbing to look at the interactions of the vultures as they create 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.

Nevertheless, through 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 under the dams of those lakes ensures straightforward recognizing of fish and meals gathering.


The opposite little chook featured at the moment is the little woodpecker. It’s known 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 an extended 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 search out and extract any edible meals.

Nature photographers strive every kind of artistic methods to seize the mysteries of birds. It is one factor to get nice footage of a chook, but it surely’s fairly one other to get a movement image of a woodpecker analyzing 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 way simpler mentioned than achieved.

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

A particular bone known as the hyoid is a muscle wrapped within the higher beak. The tissues of the tongue are divided into two elements as they cross backwards and behind the highest of the cranium, after which progress to the decrease jaw and the beak. The whole size of the tongue could be as much as a 3rd of the chook’s physique size though this may increasingly fluctuate with different species of woodpecker.

Woodpeckers’ brains are protected by distinctive cranial bone plates and particular spongy bony areas that assist take in 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 may in any other case be too quick for us people.

Woodpeckers pecking at lifeless 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 consistently speaking.

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


There are some actually nice and thrilling packages 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 house to an estimated 100 million birds.

Footage 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 can even be situated at Grimes Farm.

That is additionally free, however you will need to register earlier than February seventeenth as house is proscribed. Name 641-752-5490 relating to this program.

Anybody curious as to what consequence an antler set would possibly get and the way that result’s obtained could be excited 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 could 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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