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UTDOOR CONNECTION STORIES, ADVICE AND INFORMATION FOR OUTDOOR LOVERS

It’s SPRING The perfect time of the year to NOT fish from a boat BY STEVE WEISMAN OUTDOOR EDITOR

F

or me, there is something special about early spring fishing. First, it’s the excitement of open water. Don’t get me wrong. Ice fishing is one of my passions, and late ice is usually lights out. However, at that point, I’m ready for that open water. The nice thing about that first few weeks is that you don’t need to use a boat. Certainly, having a boat can get you back into the canals, the Harbor, the Grade and Angler’s Bay. However, since the fish are relating to the shallows, they are much more accessible from shore than they will be by the end of May. My pontoon isn’t out of storage yet, so unless a friend invites me to go in his boat, I’ll spend my time fishing from shore casting for bluegills and crappies. Here are the places you might find me. On Big Spirit, I’ll check out the Grade at the north end, Buffalo Run where the water runs under the road and Templar Boat Ramp. On West Okoboji, I will check the Triboji Boat Ramp, Turtle Lake (south side) and the Trestle. If you have access by boat, then that opens up fishing the Harbor, Millers Canal and Sandpiper Cove. The key is that the bluegills and crappies are moving into the shallow warmer water and as the temperature rises, they become more and more aggressive. Everybody has his/her favorite presentation. Here are some of mine. Small jigs are the choice. My favorites for bluegills are tiny 1/64-ounce hair jigs and tungsten purple headed flies with a size 12 hook, Clam’s Drop jig and the size 12 Rat Finke. For crappies, I will often go to tiny tube jigs or a plain hook and splitshot below a Avery Laabs of Armstrong with a nice bluegill. Now is the perfect time of the year to catch fish tiny bobber. without a boat. Photo by Hunter Wheatley

Turn to SPRING, Page 2B

The Okoboji ospreys are back BY KILEY ROTH DCCB COMMUNITY RELATIONS COORDINATOR

The Okoboji osprey have returned! The male osprey arrived back in Kenue Park around April 8, and the female followed about a week later. Osprey are summer residents of the Iowa Great Lakes, but the rest of the year, the Dickinson County Conservation Board isn’t exactly sure where they go. There’s no real way to tell exactly where an osprey winters except for satellite tracking devices, although studies have put together regional patterns for the raptors that live on six of the seven continents. Osprey that nest in the western United States overwinter from southern Texas through Mexico and into southern Central America. Osprey from eastern U.S. breeding sites overwinter in small numbers in the Caribbean and mostly in South America. An osprey takes 15-50 days to

complete its migration, and it may log more than 160,000 migration miles in its 15- to 20-year lifetime, which could boil down to 8,000 miles per year or 4,000 miles for a one-way trip. A straight line from Okoboji to central Brazil is approximately 4,800 miles, so most likely the Okoboji osprey have returned from somewhere in the northern half of South America. Since they returned, the male and female have worked together to rebuild their nest from sticks and soft organic materials, and they have spent time fishing. Osprey have a diet that consists of about 99 percent fish, and they were built for hunting them. They can dive at up to 45 miles per hour for fish they can see up to three feet below the surface. Their wings tuck back as they grab fish with their sharp talons. Osprey also have a unique skill among raptors that they can take off directly from the water. An eagle can also catch fish, but if it

Fick’s

Mother Nature never seems to straighten out What a difference a year can make! April 26 to April 2…that’s the difference from 2018 to 2019 when the Rotary car plunged through the ice in Smith’s Bay. Most recently from Nebraska to the Dakotas to Minnesota to Iowa, we all had some form of winter weather.

BY STEVE WEISMAN OUTDOOR EDITOR

We dodged the heavy snow, but we did get in on some pretty bad rain, sleet and ice making for a lot of power outages. Once again, our emergency crews did an unbelievable job of helping keep things as normal of possible. Now, here we are the weekend before opener and we’re getting several inches of heavy, wet snow! Will it ever end? In visiting with Mike Hawkins, fisheries biologist at the Spirit Lake Hatchery, the gill netting is completed! Again, what a difference a year makes. The ice never went out in 2018 until April 29, while this year’s official iceout was Monday, April 8! This, of course, made the walleye collection at the Spirit Lake Hatchery much sooner than a year ago. As a matter of fact, the gill netting was completed by April 14! Here are the results: n April 8 on East Okoboji 315 walleyes n April 9 on East Okoboji 243 walleyes n April 13 on East Okoboji 407 walleyes n April 14 on East Okoboji 163 walleyes Total on East Okoboji = 1,128 walleyes n April 13 on Big Spirit 643 walleyes n April 14 on Big Spirit 629 walleyes Total on Big Spirit = 1,272 walleyes Is that awesome or what? 2400 walleyes! As DNR Fisheries Biologist Mike Hawkins always tells me: right water temperature + right photo light period (midiApril) makes for the best gill netting time. As for walleye fishing for the opener, Hawkins says, “With the spawn being completed this soon, they should be recovered and have the feedbag on!” Hawkins added that walleye numbers are excellent on the Okobojis and Big Spirit with good numbers of 14-16+ inch fish along with an abundant supply of slot fish.

Flashback to 2018

Photo by Kiley Roth

gets into the water, it must swim to shore before being able to take off. In flight, an osprey can rotate its exterior toes so that it can carry a fish parallel to its flight, aiding in aerodynamics.

Web Camera The

Dickinson

Conservation Board is making repairs to its osprey nest camera and hopes to have it streaming online as soon as possible. Keep up on the latest at www.dickinsoncountyconservationboard.com or on the Dickinson County Nature County Center’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Remember 2018? You know, the year when the ice never left until late April. With ice still locking Big Spirit last April, the netting crews used an unusual walleye collecting process. With the warmer water at the north end of East Okoboji, the walleyes were heading to that shallow water, but in addition, they were also drawn to the spillway, which was running high with water from Big Spirit Lake. The Turn to NATURE, Page 2B

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MONDAY, MAY 6, 2019

ESTHERVILLE NEWS/ESTHERVILLE, IA

2B

OUTDOOR CONNECTION

Fine line walleye Editor’s note: Jason Mitchell hosts the popular outdoor program Jason Mitchell Outdoors which airs on Fox Sports North on Sunday mornings at 9:00 am. More information can be found online at www.jasonmitchelloutdoors.com. Follow on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. BY JASON MITCHELL

Trusting your electronics has become cliché with walleye fishing, but there is an art to distinguishing what you see on your electronics. There are also so many situations where you just won’t mark fish right below the boat particularly in shallow water. As I have gotten better at reading my sonar over the years, what is also obvious is that walleye in particular are often moving. Many of the fish we are catching are drifting and move around much more than what many anglers imagine. There are also blind spots created by uneven bottoms and rocks that can hide fish. Can’t tell you how many times I came up a break and marked a fish and put a waypoint or icon on that fish only to lose that fish as I came down the break from a different direction. What we also find in shallow water is that fish don’t stay in the cone angle of your sonar very long. Trusting your electronics is an art and the nuances can vary from fishery to fish- The author Jason Mitchell shares a few tricks on how to use your electronics to catch more walleye this seaery. Gain knowledge and trust in your electronics however son. Photo submitted and you will take your walleye game to an entirely new level. and then you will notice some white lines scroll down the when I have a fish right below me. When you are scooting Finding the walleyes Perhaps the most challenging aspect of walleye fishing is screen. Still important info as you can cast out towards those around looking, your line is invariably at a forty-five-degree simply finding them. We all know that we simply catch more fish as they swim by. With side imaging, fish often show up angle or more. As I drag the jig below or behind the boat fish if we avoid wasting time where there are no fish. If there much better over sand or a smooth bottom. Sharp breaking while looking for a fish, I simply hit the spot lock on the is one mistake we have all made, that mistake would be cruis- rip rap is a scenario that can really hide fish in shallow water. trolling motor when I am on top of the fish. I than reel up the ing around until we marked fish and then wasting too much When you find walleyes deeper than ten feet of water, they jig fast and drop the jig down right in front of the trolling time fishing for marks that were not the targeted species. A can usually be found below the boat with sonar. motor. Often, you can see the jig dropping down on your school of drum, whitefish or suckers can look an awful lot Traditionally, the down imaging is best for reading bottom sonar. The jig is now in front of or close to the fish at this like walleye. Over time, you can get comfortable distinguish- composition, distinguishing rocks, trees, transitions and point, but I believe something else happens as well when you ing small fish like crappie from a fish like a walleye. Similar weeds. The down imaging will also pick up fish right on the do this reel and drop technique. The jig falling through the fish, however, that have the same overall length and body bottom that traditional sonar will sometimes miss. water often gets the attention of fish and the jig makes noise build can be difficult to distinguish. As a rule of thumb and, Traditional chirp sonar however is still often optimum how- when it hits the bottom. I often find that I catch more fish by of course, there are exceptions but usually… walleye will ever for marking fish and baitfish. I feel much more comfort- letting the jig hit the bottom fast. This noise might be imporcome across the screen one fish at a time. Walleyes often able gauging the size of the fish with the traditional chirp tant for turning the fish if the fish is facing away or facing a seem to like some space around them where they will be in sonar. A new Lowrance update from this past season com- wrong direction. Both jigs and rigs will work for this techbines the best of both worlds and this sonar option is called nique along with horizontal swim lures like jigging raps or clusters. If you are looking at a whole school of fish scrolling across Fish Reveal. Kind of an overlay that combines the down even rattle baits or jigging spoons. I have grown to love tungthe screen where there are several fish overlapping, the fish imaging screen with the fish showing up in traditional sonar sten for this technique because not only is tungsten heavier but also much louder. The noise is often important because you are looking at are probably whitefish or some other colors. species. At times as well, the definition of side imaging can As a rule of thumb, big fish simply make thicker marks and you are simply dropping into the zone that might be within help you distinguish species. Catfish, for example, will often if you are using a Lowrance, you will get that second or third ten feet of that fish. have a noticeable teardrop shape. Freshwater drum will have color inside the signal on a bigger fish. The length of the Often, when you drop down and move your rod tip around a higher back. To get the definition of actual fish shape, it mark is simply how long the signal is behind the boat. This the trolling motor, you can find your jig on the sonar screen seems to help if you scan at a slightly faster speed (3 miles knowledge enables you to find fish at faster speeds. As you and the jig will appear as a line that moves up and down as speed up, the marks become more vertical like a slash. As you jig, resembling a heartbeat monitor. You can often see per hour) and drive straight. As you slow down, you will still pick up fish on side imag- you slow down to around three miles per hour, you will start the fish come up and strike the jig. ing but many of the fish get distorted. Rule number one is to to get nice arches when you go over fish. As you slow down By scooting around looking for fish and then spending fish for walleye if you want to catch walleye. If something even more, the signal becomes distorted where you get a blob some time over a specific mark, I believe you increase the number of fish you catch through the day dramatically. This looks too good to be true with the number of fish that you are shape that is just a hump or round elongated signal. also enables you to specifically target a fish that appears to be marking, it usually is. I have found some other species that Catching the fish you see on the screen would just stack up in some locations and there are times When it comes to catching specific fish, you see on the bigger. when walleye will mix in or swim below big schools of screen, I have tried a lot of different strategies with some suc- Understanding the full capabilities of your electronics will whitefish, suckers or catfish but usually, you end up wasting cess. I have moved the crosshair onto the fish creating a way- no doubt mean catching more walleye this season. Reading a lot of time trying to fish for walleye over a school of fish point and then zig zagged over that waypoint and caught fish structure and finding fish is one element. There are more that is not your targeted species. but that is assuming the fish doesn’t move. I have also tried secrets however that can up your game. The more comfortIn shallow water, we can sometimes find fish with side to stall out over the mark and attempted to hang in one place able you are with your electronics, the more fish you will imaging and cast to those fish. What can make distinguishing usually by back trolling and done well. Of course, catching a catch. Using side imaging can really increase the amount of fish difficult overall when fishing at slow speeds with side specific fish, you are marking on your sonar demands that fish you catch in shallow water and enable you to find isolatimaging is that the shapes get distorted where they begin to your presentation is right below the boat and close to the cone ed rocks or give you a better understanding of the bottom. The scoot and shoot method or reeling up fast and dropping resemble white lines. You really notice this distortion when angle of your electronics. back down on top of a fish is another trick that will put a lot spot locking over an area like a current seam on a river and Jig fishing and the screen more fish in the boat. waves of fish push through. The side imaging will be clean With jig fishing, I find that I am more effective if I reset

SPRING, Continued from Page 1B

NATURE, Continued from Page 1B

Early on, I will tip the tiny jigs with wax worms, silver wigglers or a piece of Maki Plastic. However, in the past week, the best action has come on Belgian worms. When I work these shallow areas, there are all kinds of structure: wood docks, hoists and overhanging grassy areas along shore. While I do cast out, some of my best luck comes from the docks and back to the shore. The last two times I fished Triboji, while other people were working out at the end of the docks, I actually fished from shore, sight fishing suspended bluegills. The key was to get rid of the bobber and straight-line. My go-to lure for this type of fishing is the purple headed fly tipped with a Belgian worm. Instead of casting overhand, I will open the bail and pull out line with my left hand and then underhand flip the bait. It’s a lot like bass anglers flip their jigs to get under and around docks and hoists. First off, I always wear polaroid glasses and will look for suspended bluegills under the dock or hoist However, you can’t get too close. If they see you or your shadow, they will simply sink down the water column until they are out of sight. The fly is light enough that it slowly sinks down, and the lively Belgian worm makes for a hard to resist bait. As the fly sinks, I will keep the rod tip up and jiggle it back toward me. When you target suspended bluegills, watch for the fish to suck in the bait. Don’t wait; set the hook immediately. If you can’t see the fish, then watch the line-when the bluegill picks up the bait, there will be a slight tick or tightening of the line. Set the hook immediately. An often-hidden gold mine is along shore where grass might be hanging over the bank. The grass provides shade on sunny days, and the bluegills just lounge in the shade. Jiggle that fly and Belgian worm along the front edge of the grass and bang! One dock produced an interesting mix of fish. On the dock was a fisherman using a bobber and minnow for crappie. Not much chance to catch a bluegill on that bait, so he sat there quite a while. All of a sudden, a school of crappies moved under the dock, and he caught four 10-11 inch crappies in less than five minutes. Then evidently the school moved on, and the bite was over…until about 15 minutes later, and the crappies returned. During this 20-minute period, I fished the shore side of the hoist, along the shallow edge of the wood dock and along the overhanging grass caught maybe a dozen bluegills, five of which were 8-8½ inchers. They weren’t suspended, so it was jigging and watching for the telltale tick of the line! Just a couple of docks away, I was able to do the same thing. I fished about an hour and kept 15 nice bluegills, throwing lots of 5-7 inchers back. Yes, this time of year, I thoroughly enjoy not fishing from a boat!

DNR found hundreds of walleyes fighting that current in that narrow raceway. Adult walleyes there for the taking! So, the workers put on their waders and proceeded to net 359 walleyes in four days of effort. One of the biologists would don a special backpack specifically designed to stun the fish but not hurt them. Meanwhile, other biologists on either side quickly dip netted the fish and transferred them out of the spillway and into a tank truck. Another 300+ were taken at the mouth of the raceway at the north end of East Okoboji using an electrofishing boat and a team of netters to catch the stunned fish as they drifted downstream! Thinking out of the box led to the seining of over 600 walleyes in the most unconventional way.

High water concerns Historic data shows spring water levels in the Iowa Great Lakes at extremely high levels. The huge mid-March rain really brought the levels up, and the recent rains and snow in southern Minnesota will probably keep us at those high levels. Plus, with groundwater levels so high, and with this spring’s forecast for wetter than normal conditions, we are definitely not out of the woods yet. Unfortunately, we are within a few inches of a No-Wake declaration. You have probably seen the Dickinson County Emergency Management Commission’s decision to do away with the 600-foot no-wake rule. So, when the level reaches a predetermined level, the No-

Photo courtesy Spirit Lake Hatchery

Wake rule will be enforced. That would certainly affect boat and barge traffic as the docks and hoists are put into the lake, not to mention all of the boating anglers and recreationists. There is not much we can do but hope and pray that we can get through this stretch without the No-Wake having to be implemented.

Fish migrations We know that the electric fish barrier at Lower Gar is designed to stop unwanted fish from reaching the Iowa

Great Lakes chain. According to Hawkins, recent testing has found Asian carp moving to the lakes, but they have been stopped by the electric barrier. So, that is good. However, studies have shown that during high water conditions like we have had the last few years, game fish like muskies and walleyes are exiting the lakes and moving downstream into Mill Creek. Once there, the electric barrier stops them from re-enter-

ing. In an attempt to stop this exodus, this spring an electrode will be placed upstream to the east of the current electric barrier. It will release a mild current that will hopefully deter the fish from leaving the lakes and going into the creek. If this works, then there is the possibility of putting something like this above the Big Spirit Lake spillway to deter movement downstream into East Okoboji.


MONDAY, MAY 6, 2019

ESTHERVILLE NEWS/ESTHERVILLE, IA

3B

OUTDOOR CONNECTION

SLOW DOWN IN THE SPRING FOR MORE FISH BY BOB JENSEN FISHING THE MIDWEST FISHING TEAM

If you want to be successful when you go fishing, you need to first, find the fish. Once you've done that, you need to give them what they want to eat. If you do those two things, you'll catch more fish more often. One really important thing to remember is that fish behave differently at different times of the year. Sometimes they want a bait that's moving fast, other times they want a slower moving bait. In the spring when the water is cooler, a slow moving bait will usually catch more fish. Here are some ideas that will help you catch more fish in the next few weeks. Jigs are perhaps the best presentation for walleyes in the spring. In many situations, you'll be fishing for walleyes over sand, gravel, and emerging vegetation. Dragging a jig/minnow combo will be a productive technique, and the best style of jig to drag will be a standup jig. When you drag a jig, you're casting the jig out, letting it sink to the bottom, then crawling, or dragging it back along the bottom. Frequent pauses in your retrieve will get reluctant fish to bite. You don't want to be hopping the jig: A slow retrieve will be much better. A stand-up jig does just that: When you pause the jig, it stands up on the bottom. A round head jig lays flat on the bottom at rest. The fish can see the minnow on the stand-up jig much better when the jig is sitting still, which increases your odds for getting bit. One of the most popular and effective stand-up jigs is the stand-up Fire-Ball jig. Probably the best technique for presenting a bait slowly is by employing a

Nice catch! Kenny Duitsman of Estherville caught these three nice sized Northerns on Thursday. The largest of the three measured at 37 inches and was around 14.5 pounds. Photo by David Swartz

A trip back in time: Hereʼs Dean Arnoldussen with a spring walleye that wanted the bait moved very slowly. Photo by Bob Jensen

slip-bobber. With a slipbobber, you can hang a bait right on a fish's nose. The key to bobber success is figuring out how deep you should set the bobber, and how deep the bobber is set depends on where the fish are. If the fish are near the bottom, you want the bobber set so your bait is near the bottom. You want your bait just a little bit above the fish, because fish will move up to take a bait, but rarely will they go down to take a bait. You can use a small jig or hook below the bobber, and to that you’ll attach live bait,

probably a minnow but there are times when leeches will be better. If you’re after panfish, plastics can be very good on the jig. If you’re using plastics, you'll need to impart some action by wiggling the rod tip. Live bait will provide its own action, and there are times when the action of live bait will be more productive. Trial and success are the best way to figure this out. When jigging for walleyes, we’re going to be moving the baits slowly, so the fish are going to get a good look at the bait. And the take will often be soft, so we need a

sensitive rod. 6 pound test Tactical fluorocarbon line on a Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Walleye Special rod will provide the invisibility and sensitivity that will enable us to catch more spring walleyes. Once an angler understands that fish behave differently in different seasons, that angler will be more successful. Usually, if you move your bait slowly in the spring, you'll catch more fish. To see new and older episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, fishing articles and videos, visit fishingthemidwest.com.

Food plots for pheasants, quail provide shelter BOONE — Each winter, food plots of corn, sorghum, or other grains are used by all kinds of wildlife for survival. A well designed food plot can provide additional shelter for pheasants, quail and other wildlife, and withstand heavy snow storms that often flatten grass habitats, like the late February blizzard that left eight foot snow drifts across portions of north Iowa closing Interstate 35 for more than 24 hours. “There have been few documented cases of pheasants actually starving to death in Iowa,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Virtually all of Iowa’s winter mortality is attributed to persistent snows or blizzards with the birds dying of exposure to predators or the weather.” With next winter in mind, now is the time to begin planning food plots. So why plant food plots for pheasants if they seldom starve in winter? First, food plots provide winter habitat as well as food. In fact, if properly designed and large enough, the habitat

created by a food plot is much more beneficial to wildlife than the food itself. Second, food plots allow pheasants to obtain a meal quickly thereby limiting their exposure to predators and maximizing their energy reserves. “If hens have good fat supplies coming out of the winter, they are more likely to nest successfully,” said Bogenschutz. Food plots also provide habitat and food for many other species like deer, turkey, partridge, squirrels, and songbirds. Bogenschutz offers the following suggestions for planning shelterbelts and food plots for pheasants and quail: n Corn provides the most reliable food source throughout the winter as it resists lodging in heavy snows. Sorghum or milo provides better winter habitat. Pheasants prefer corn to sorghum as a food source. Half corn and half sorghum plots make the best of both worlds - cover and food - for pheasant and quail. n Place food plots next to wetlands, CRP fields, and multi-row shrubconifer shelterbelts that provide good winter habitat and away from tall

deciduous trees that provide raptors with a place sit and watch food plots. n Size of food plots depends upon where they are placed. If the plot is next to good winter cover the plot can be smaller but at least two acres minimum. If winter cover is marginal, like a ditch, then plots must be larger – 5 to 10 acres – to provide cover as well as food. n Depending on the amount of use some food plots can be left for two years. The weedy growth that follows in the second year provides excellent nesting, brood rearing, and winter habitat for pheasants and other upland wildlife. Food plots that have heavy deer use generally need to be replanted every year. Cost-share assistance or seed for food plot establishment is available from most county Pheasants Forever chapters or local co-ops. People can also contact their local wildlife biologist for information on how to establish and design shelterbelts or food plots that benefit wildlife. More information is available at http://www.iowadnr.gov/privatelands.

DNR unveils online hunting and fishing license system DES MOINES — The Iowa DNR is unveiling the latest innovative technology available at your fingertips when it comes to hunting

and fishing licenses. The new system, Go Outdoors Iowa, launched in February 2019 and makes it easier and more convenient

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for hunters and anglers to purchase licenses, manage profile information, apply for quota hunts, and report harvests. "We are excited to implement a modern technology solution that not only brings efficiencies to the agency, but also provides so many added values and benefits for our users," said Alex Cross, DNR Customer Service and Licensing Supervisor. Public users will be able to log-in to their customer profile from anywhere with a cellular/internet connection to edit customer details, purchase new licenses, reprint licenses, set up license autorenew, report a harvest, and submit quota hunt applications. The Go Outdoors Iowa app, downloadable for free through the App Store or Google Play Store, allows users to purchase and access their hunting and fishing

licenses from anywhere, anytime via mobile devices, as well as renew licenses, view hunting regulations, report harvests and view current sunrise/sunset times. A new collectible hard card is available for purchase in two different designs-a largemouth bass or a pheasant-created by native Iowa artist Bruce Gordon. The durable hard card costs $5 and will include purchased licenses printed on the back for the year. The cards are available to purchase online or in person and will be mailed out after purchase. New designs on the hard card will be unveiled each year. The new licensing system is accessible, as well as additional information, by visiting https://www.iowadnr.gov/GoOutdoorsIowa. Customer may continue to visit any license agent location to purchase their licenses and permits.

Woodpeckers can imitate a neighborʼs plumage ITHACA, N.Y. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) — In the first global test of the idea, scientists have found evidence that some woodpeckers can evolve to look like another species of woodpecker in the same neighborhood. The researchers say that this "plumage mimicry" isn’t a fluke—it happens among pairs of distantly related woodpeckers all over the world. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, was conducted by researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, SUNY Buffalo State, the University of British Columbia, and Manchester University. "Habitat, climate, and genetics play a huge role in the way feather color and pattern develop," explains lead author Eliot Miller at the Cornell Lab. "Species in similar environments can look similar to one another. But in some cases, there’s another factor influencing the remarkable resemblance between two woodpecker species and that’s mimicry. It's the same phenomenon found in some butterflies which have evolved markings that make them look like a different bad-tasting or toxic species in order to ward off predators." Around the world there are several pairs of woodpeckers that look alike, but aren’t closely related. Research led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Eliot Miller documented this doppelganger phenomenon around the world among pairs of woodpecker species that genetically diverged millions of year ago. Miller says the mechanism is plumage mimicry—one species evolving to look like another in order to gain some benefit. In the case of smaller-sized doppelgangers, they may be evolving to look like their bigger twins so that they can gain some of the dominance benefits associated with a larger, more aggressive bird. Study authors combined data on feather color, DNA sequences, eBird reports, and NASA satellite measures of vegetation for all 230 of the world's woodpecker species. It became clear, Miller says, that there have been repeated cases of distantly related woodpeckers coming to closely resemble each other when they live in the same region of the globe. “In North America, the classic lookalike pairing is the downy woodpecker and the larger hairy woodpecker,” says Miller. “Our study suggests that these two species have evolved to look nearly identical above and beyond what would be expected based on their environment. Yet, these two species have evolved millions of years apart. Other North American lookalikes are black-backed and three-toed woodpeckers. In Europe, greater and lesser spotted woodpeckers bear a striking resemblance, as do the lineated, robust, and helmeted woodpeckers of South America. Though not part of the study, Miller's take on the reason for woodpecker dopplegangers is that downies that look like the larger, more aggressive hairy woodpeckers might make other birds, such as nuthatches and titmice, think twice about competing with the downy for food. Some evidence supporting this idea has been found in observational studies but field experiments would be needed to more conclusively test this hypothesis. The data turned up some other interesting connections between woodpecker appearance and habitat. Many of the woodpeckers the scientists looked at in tropical regions have darker feathers. This adds to a growing body of evidence in support of "Gloger’s Rule," which states that organisms tend to be darker colored in more humid areas. They also found that: n Red-headed woodpecker species tend to live in forested habitats n Black, white and gray colored species tend to live in open habitats n Woodpeckers with red on their bellies are most often found in forests n Woodpeckers with large patches of color on their bellies were most often found in open habitats Additional studies would be needed to try to ferret out why some plumage patterns seem to be linked to habitat types. "It’s really fascinating," says Miller. "And it’s pretty likely this is happening in other bird families, too. I first got interested in this question a decade ago from looking through bird books. I wondered how the heck some distantly related species could look so much alike— what are the odds that it could happen just by chance?"


MONDAY, MAY 6, 2019

ESTHERVILLE NEWS/ESTHERVILLE, IA

4B

OUTDOOR CONNECTION Stewardship Tip:

Spring aeration BY BEN LEAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RECYCLED FISH

ORIOLES AND HUMMINGBIRDS To attract orioles and hummingbirds tray these oriole/hummingbird mixes. n Boil 6 cups water (Oriole) 4 cups (hummingbird); n Add 1 cup granulated sugar until dissolved n Cool fill feeder n Store in refrigerator. n Clean feeder every 2 days with hot, soapy water. At top: eight ruby throated humming birds; at right top: an orchard oriole; at right bottom: a hummingbird and a finch; below: Baltimore orioles with a male and female orchard oriole. Photos and copy by Mike Fredrickson

Your lawn is a buffer. It captures, stores, and breaks chemicals down. It keeps them from running off into the local watershed. A sound conservation practice at home is to aerate your lawn. Aeration will help your lawn continue to act as a buffer. As lawns age, soil compaction often results. Compaction reduces the pore space within the soil that would normally hold air. This results in poor nutrient uptake and reduced water infiltration. Poor water infiltration results in excessive runoff. Aeration opens up your lawn and allows oxygen, nutrients, and water to get to the roots. It creates a healthier lawn with a deeper root system. Aeration will help to reduce the amount of water that runs off your lawn, it will also help to reduce the amount of pollutants that are carried from your lawn in runoff. The best time to aerate your lawn is when your grass is actively growing. For cool season grasses such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass, fall or spring is the ideal time to aerate. For warm season grasses such as buffalo grass, zoysia, and bermudagrass, June, July, or August are ideal. A core aerator, the type that removes plugs and deposits them on your lawn, will do the best job relieving compaction. Other types of aerators, such as spike aerators, will actually compound soil compaction by pressing the soil down. Why it is important to the fish: The Ozark Hellbender resides in the North Fork of the White River. This giant salamander, unique to the Ozarks, is on the endangered species list. It is, according to

the National Park Service, “extremely vulnerable to habitat disturbance and changes in water quality.” Here in Iowa we are no strangers to the effects of run off in our local lakes, rivers and streams. Each year we see algae blooms that at times become dangerous enough for the Iowa DNR to issue warning to avoid swimming at area beaches as well as keeping pets from entering the water. While aerating our lawns is but a small portion the solution, establishing a heathy root system that helps filter run off and use more of the water that sits on your lawn rather than run off. We all live upstream. We may live upstream from a sand bottom river, we may live upstream from an underground drainage system; no matter where we live, the runoff from our lawns may contain pollutants. We can reduce those pollutants by aerating our lawns.

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Outdoor Connection - May 2019  

Outdoor Connection - May 2019  

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