CANADA GEESE

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015 in The Naturalist |

Canada Geese Special By: Lisa McCabe – Naturalist at the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit In the spring and fall, many of us take notice of the thousands of geese flying in V-formations through the sky as they migrate throughout the U.S. These migrating geese can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour, and reach altitudes of 9,000 feet! While many of these geese are taking refuge in the wetlands of the Midwest, many are making their way into the city, and taking advantage of public areas. Canada Geese are a species that can be viewed as a nuisance in some areas for this reason. Part of the reason that we see them in the cities is that people like to feed them. In many places, feeding the geese is considered “baiting and feeding,” which is illegal in many counties. What you didn’t realize, is that geese are also considered as one of the smartest birds by many hunters. There are few long-term solutions for these sorts of nuisance conflicts. Short term solutions may include balloons, flags, dead-goose decoys, ultrasonic sound emitters, plastic owls or snakes, floating alligator heads, and human scarecrows. Temporarily these solutions may deter geese, but the birds quickly realize that these items do not pose any real threat. Geese prefer lawns and open water areas besides wetlands, so one method of deterrence would be to actually eliminate these favored areas or decrease access to these areas (habitat modification). Other methods may include egg depredation, flight control, and a Working Border Collie Chase Program. Part of the issue is that these birds have a long life span of up to 25 years in the wild, along with a strong apparent aggression against any that threaten their young. Sometimes a lack of predation, like on an enclosed golf course, can cause a boom in their population on that particular site. These geese are also considered monogamous unless their mate dies; a couple could become rather successful at raising young over the years! Like turkey, they are also considered monocular, meaning that their eyes work independently on the side of their head. This allows them to see well, and to see nearly 360 degrees around themselves. Be aware that federal law does protect the geese. It is illegal to harm geese, their eggs, or their nests in the U.S without permission from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. You can harass and scare away the geese as long as they are not harmed. These birds are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918, and a lack of compliance can result in fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Surprisingly, this also applies to untrained dog’s actions as well. With the proper licensing and following the state and local hunting regulations, it is legal to harvest September through February. It is also legal to...

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Wisconsin’s Wild Turkey

Wisconsin’s Wild Turkey

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in The Naturalist |

Written by: Lisa McCabe, Naturalist at the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit in Hartford, WI Wisconsin’s largest game bird, the wild turkey, may be one the most interesting game species there is! Turkeys have what is called monocular vision which means that they can look at two things at once because their eyes are located on either side of their head. Both eyes are unable to focus on the same image at the same time like human eyes. This amazing fact may help them avoid predation, but it means that they have poor depth perception. After feeding in the morning, turkeys will often rest or begin “dusting”. This process of dusting allows a turkey to fluff up its feathers enough for the soil to penetrate their skin. This is done to maintain their plumage to keep the feathers from becoming saturated with dry flakes of skin, to remove any excess preening oil, along with other debris that they may gather. Game birds, song birds, and even raptors have been known to practice dusting. Preferable dusting spots may include rolling in a fire pit, an anthill, sandy spots, and even decayed logs. Wild turkey is able to fly for short bursts and up to 55 mph, while domestic turkeys are unable to fly due to selective breeding to create a heavier broader-breasted bird. Wild turkeys have been known to fly for up to a mile, but are often mostly seen using flight to escape ground predation or to roost for the night. Roosting refers to a turkey selecting a tree to sleep or rest. Some evidence reports that turkeys are very tree-selective and tend to choose those trees with a large DBH (diameter at breast height), which tends to coincide with the characteristics of a taller tree. Not only are suitable branches required for rest, but the taller trees give them a better advantage to visualize their surroundings, yet also help increase their distance from ground-dwelling predators. The only time turkeys won’t roost in a tree overnight is when they roost on the ground once the incubation has begun. When the poults (young turkey under a year of age) are able to fly, roosting in trees will initiate again within proximity to the brood-rearing...

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