Explore Iowa's natural world through a series of new publications by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Over the past two decades, scientists and beekeepers alike observed drastic declines in bee populations. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) offered through the USDA offers a promising mitigation strategy related to establishing more nesting and foraging habitat for bees.
Wild turkey. Ring-necked pheasant. Trumpeter swan. Turkey vulture. Northern bobwhite. These are the remarkable birds of Iowa's rural landscapes. They're large, conspicuous, and broadly recognized. These species, and a few more, are those most associated with rural life and synonymous with our experience on the farm. However, I submit that to the trained eye, and ear, the bird that most symbolizes Iowa's countryside is not these charismatic familiar species, but rather, the unremarkable yet fascinatingly remarkable Dickcissel.
There seem to be no limits to the creative capacity of nature lovers, so one can find design specifications for structures for anything from a turtle to an osprey. Many different shapes, sizes, and designs are available for ‘bird houses’. Boxes for secondary cavity nesters also come in all shapes and sizes to target dozens of species in Iowa.
For many of us, conservation is our way of life. Finding ways to connect with and improve the land, the soil, the water, and wildlife consumes our thoughts and free time. If you have someone in your life that shares that same passion, here’s a few ideas for brightening their holiday season.
New challenges for deer management are on the horizon. Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD is a neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family.
In February of 2018, wildlife biologists and veterinarians investigated the suspicious death of 32 trumpeter swans in a Clinton County wetland. This incident, and others, has prompted interest in finding ways to reduce lead exposure and curtail these unnatural deaths.
Did you know that Iowa’s smallest mammal weighs less than a tablespoon of butter? Or that 9 species of bats call Iowa’s forest home during the summer? Or that river otters have been documented in every county in Iowa? These facts, and many more, are the subject of a new, freely available book from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach titled, “Mammals of Iowa.”
If this spring revitalization were a cast of characters, I think we’d agree that geese and robins play the leading role. But my favorite, and perhaps one of the most undervalued supporting characters in this annual revival, is the American Woodcock.
It is this time of year that our native trees and shrubs downshift into dormancy during cold fall days, first trading the greens of photosynthesis for the brilliant colors of fall and then, in a synchronous ritual formed through millennia of adaptation to Iowa’s climate, drop their leaves and settle in for winter.