LIFE ON THE FLYWAY
By Cynthia Smith
Living on the Mississippi flyway as I do, I see ALL SORTS of feathered creatures all around my place. Swans are the biggest - and most beautiful, I think. Right now there are around six on my nearest puddle. The little backwater of the Kickapoo near me has about one or two families of swans, apparently resting up until they get peeved at lower temperatures and head South.
Not that they FLY, (or migrate) but, Wisconsin wild turkeys obtained in the 1970's from Missouri for 35 traded ruffed grouse settled in naturally to become part of our state's profitable hunting season(s). In the past few weeks since fields are becoming combined/picked, I spotted groups of a dozen birds or even hundreds per flock, gorging on seeds left on the ground, not wasting a crumb, where crops were just picked.
Turkeys aren't the only species that gorge on the remains of a combined bean field. This week while passing a harvested bean field, I had to peer to see what on earth was at my neighbor's. Seems like a flock of Canada geese had chosen that field to camp overnight-- or at least until rested and ready to resume their flight.
I recall reading about migrating birds in a book - how they flew almost singularly in the night time hours. Anyone know if that is true? And, did any of you see the recent photo taken of a 757 that collided with a large bird, probably a goose. The metal nose was bent inward and passengers (a basketball team) were taking photos of the plane.
I doubt these types migrate, but surrounding my homestead I've seen a multitude of hawks and predatory winged birds - even nailing songbirds at my feeders. I have eagles, crows, and kingfishers. I hear owls, barred - or is it bard???- great horned owls, and once we watched in freezing wintertime some years back, a SNOWY OWL! It was just off my deck, hunting a mouse in the snowbank underneath me. It made two unsuccessful tries for the mouse before it gave up, much fun to watch.
Goodbyes already said by me to the sandhill cranes, they are gone now. All the eaglets seem to have mastered flying and fishing. I love to count their nests all the way up to La Crosse when leaves have dropped in the fall.
Oh - for you who love history and our area, the settlement of the Driftless area, there is a new book in print called The Driftless Reader (U of Wisconsin Press,2017) Boscobel library has it!
Years ago while driving past a wildlife preserve in Northern Missouri hundreds of waterfowl - maybe even thousands - had stopped to rest. Neither my husband nor I had ever seen that many birds in one space. We stopped to watch how they left and took to the air -fabulous!