Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Success! Failure!

When I first came to Bluff Country some 50 years ago, as a young schoolteacher, deer were quite rare in the area. Most deer hunters in southern Minnesota talked of "heading up North" to pursue their quarry. Since then the logged over boreal forests in the North Country have matured and the browsing conditions for tender young aspen have lessened. Thus, their are fewer deer in that region. Things have changed here in the South as well. The hunters now speak well of our "corn fed deer." Gardeners and Christmas tree farmers complain that the deer have become a major nuisance. My friend, Mr. Science, has to cover the leaders on his young pine trees in the winter to protect them from the deer. "They eat the tips like candy and breed like rabbits," he says. Last year one of our neighbors fed deer big time and I counted herds of 25 her barrel corn feeder, other bird feeders and white cedars and other shrubs for browsing.

Another success story are the wild turkeys. I fished for trout and smallmouth bass on the local streams for many years and hunted pheasants and ruffed grouse before I ever saw a wild turkey. Then some bass were traded to Missouri for a few wild turkeys. They slowly spread from here, north to the central part of the state. Now I see more turkeys than pheasants. Spring turkey hunting season has become a big deal.

These turkeys live acoss the road in the Oak Woods. They do like those acorns. The fenced in area belongs to the goat family but I think in winter the turkeys find some leftovers.
And then their were the "extinct"  Giant Canada Geese. Turns out they weren't as extinct as people thought. A flock was discovered wintering happily in  Silver Lake in Rochester MN. There the water remains open in winter due to a power plant. Now the Giant Canada can be found everywhere, in the State munching grass happily on golf courses, city parks, suburban lawns and corporate landscapes. By the thousands, by the hundred thousands, by the..... well you get the idea.

Finally is the story which I have written about many times. My favorite birds are our magnificent Bald and Golden Eagles. Except for their redoubts in Alaska and a small remnant in northern Minnesotas boreal forests, the Balds had all but disappeared throughout the lower forty-eight. Finally, protected as an endangered species, they have rebounded amazingly. Here, one county away from the Mississippi River, they were historically unknown. Now they live and nest here in Minnesota's Fillmore county the  only county without a lake in the Land of Ten Thousand. I see them everywhere year round. Flying over my house carrying pine branches to a nest only several blocks away. Sitting in my garden keeping watch on a deer carcass at the bottom of the hill. On top of a telephone pole across the street.

These pictures are all of my friends the Troutfarm Eagles. They are neighbors and live just over the hill.

These are a few of the iconic success stories in my own area. And for all of them I'm very glad. For many of the other animals including our song birds, I'm far far from encouraged. The purple martins who once swept from their condominiums over our lakes, the meadowlarks whose beautiful song reminded me it was time to get up and go to school as a boy, the warblers whose flashing colors danced about me as I waded our local streams, and countless others. There numbers and other have dropped precipitously to all time lows. I hope time and human concern will eventually foster their comebacks as well.  There are many causes for these drastic declines both here and in the migratory areas of  Central and South America.  One of the biggest causes here are the millions of feral and domestic cats roaming our towns, suburbs and rural areas.  Now something  can and should be done about that...... Troutbirder and his neutered, declawed free ranging ( only in the house) pal Simba. Who lived happily with us for eighteen years without killing a single bird.....


  1. i have been living in texas for almost 31 years. you've helped answer the question why i never saw wild turkeys or bald eagles in my first 20 years spent in wisconsin, yet now they seem commonplace in blogs in the upper midwest.

    as for meadowlarks, i can tell you they're doing well here. :) i'm grateful to have them around during our winter months.

  2. I'm a cat sort of guy, but I do wish people would keep them inside.

    I have never heard giant in front of Canada Goose before although it fits.

  3. I share your worry, TB, that's why I look after and encourage the birds in my area. You've probably read some of my bird tales. The area where I live plays host to a lot of canada geese, in fact some flew in just the other day. Not sure if they are giant or not.

  4. I really enjoyed your tales of the increase of wildlife of various kinds in your area. And I also am sad about the decline of certain songbirds. Thank you for having a sweet indoor cat. It's their nature to chase and kill birds. :-)

  5. You often read that the 1972 banning of DDT, which when it got into an eagle's system prevented its eggs' shells from hardening, brought the eagles back.

    I'm not sure what's behind the explosion in deer population, which is all over the country. There are competing explanations. Some say it's the decline of natural predators like wolves and bobcats but my sense is that it doesn't exactly correspond with that. A cogent discussion from an environmentalist aspect, which touches on hunting regulation's contribution to the problem, is in this article.

    But you can say, I think, that all the increases you mentioned started happening roughly when the Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970, by Richard Nixon, by the way, back when Republicans weren't such wack jobs. We thought they were, but now we have wack jobs, who would undo all government regulation. All. Every bit. No eagles, no nothing.

  6. An interesting read and I love that so many animals are returning but I can't understand people corn feeding deer. It just seems to me that it makes the deer much more domesticated and then they have no chance against the hunters.

  7. It's nice to hear good news about wildlife populations for a change. You are right to point out the cat problem, as much as I love cats, they are hard on wildlife. Your second photo is gorgeous.

  8. We've had a similar situation in Connecticut. The latest to be added to our list is moose,bear, and possibly cougars. I love seeing wildlife so hopefully we can learn to live side by without too much of a problem.

  9. Hi Troutbirder, Enjoyed this post. I lived for a while in Southwest Montana near Yellowstone Park. The deer have become so common there. In our small town they would walk down the streets nibbling on anything they wanted for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Our biggest concern was that they didn't mix well with autos and trucks after dark. John

  10. Hurrah for the success stories! I'm sorry for the birds that have disappeared from your area. We still have plenty of meadowlarks in our area. I love their morning song.

  11. Great to catch up with you!
    The deer here have become a nuisance, according to the farmers, state police, and azalea growers. I am fortunate... they live in my thicket and in return eat my neighbor's bushes and plants, not mine.
    Years ago, as a member of the E Shore Bird club, we kept the nests of our few eagles a serious secret. Now, on a small river north of us, they take eagle viewing cruises a couple times a year. Imagine!
    We are over-run by geese here, both Canada and Snow that show up in the fall by the thousands... we are on the Great Atlantic Fly-way. Tho most locals love the beauty of the birds, again, the farmers are not that happy. They can shred a field of winter wheat in a day or two. Flocks often cover several acres.
    Even Brants are now moving further inland to enjoy the tender shoots of winter crops here... a tasty change from sea lettuce and eel grass, no doubt.

    Also in my woods I have a family of grey foxes. They keep me from owning guinea hens or other fowl.

    My outdoor kitties have never caught any of the birds at any of my 18 feeders... they do watch, but I guess are too well fed to exert themselves. Fast food is not for them. Yet, they are excellent mousers (voles, shrews, whatever)... Guess these critters are a tad slower... a plus for my lazy cats.
    The house kitties have all been declawed... I hate doing it, but it becomes a necessity after a while.

    My acreage, as you might guess, is also home to a robust possum population, well fed with cat food in the winter, persimmons in season, huge mulberry trees, and best of all, numerous unwanted critters that they find delicious.

  12. Happy for the successes, but I sure do miss the meadowlarks of my childhood.