Although the author of the following poem, To A Snowdrop by William Wadsworth, 1819, wrote eloquently about the perennial spring bulb known as snowdrop of Ireland, Scotland, and Britain, he could have just as well been writing about a certain flower soon to be showing itself throughout North America's Great Plains, including across the prairie grasslands of Minnesota. "Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they But hardier far, once more I see thee bend Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend, Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
All winter long I've enjoyed watching a pair of oversized birds making quick work of the softball-sized suet balls hanging from my backyard shepherd's hook. And while I'm not happy that the balls of animal fat cost me upwards of a four dollar bill apiece, wild birds of all kinds, sizes, and shapes can't pass up pecking on pure suet.
"There's a chicken hawk!" shouted my cousin, while he pointed at the bird as it left its perch high in the canopy of a nearby tree.
The chickadee. In my book, and probably many others' book, few wild birds are more familiar, more friendly, or more enjoyable to watch and listen to — be they gathered at our backyard birdfeeders on cold winter days, or flitting about within the understory of some remote corner of some forest, or whistling their ever-so-familiar "fee-bee" song during a time of year when warmth is rare and springtime a long way off.
I recently attended the annual meeting of The Wildlife Society that was held this year at Maplelag Resort and my route to the event took me through parts of eastern Becker County and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge on the beautifully meandering highways west of Becker County Highway 37. Traveling on ice-free roads, it was easy to enjoy the scenery of all that Lake Country Minnesota has to offer.
I often wonder what my children will remember about deer hunting as they grow older with families of their own. Will they recall with fondness and nostalgia those early years when they were true "greenhorns," still wearing their Minnesota Firearms Safety patches sewn on blaze orange stocking caps and still afraid of the dark woods? Will they pass on the tradition, their hunting heritage, to the youngsters they raise or mentor? My own memories of deer hunting are a rich mixture of anticipation, preparation, excitement, characters, and lore.
Drive a stretch of highway along a solidly frozen Minnesota lake and you'll notice there are often clusters of small fish houses, like villages, scattered all over the lake's ice-covered surface. And paralleling the lakeshore in an orderly and equidistant manner will often be other houses and various shelters conspicuously set apart from those other villages of fishing shelters.
As a young boy I once entered a pet of mine into a pet show held at a town park. My memory is a little foggy about the event, but I do recall about a gazillion different animals being there. Dogs, cats, turtles, birds, frogs, snakes, and so on. I remember sitting patiently beside my pet for what seemed like a long time waiting for a judge to visit me and ask questions about my pet. The first question she asked was what my pet's name was. I replied, "Chee-Chee." She seemed amused about the name. A little while later I took home a ribbon that read:
First off, my apologies for writing an incorrect "factoid" in my recent column about fish species. I had included a misstatement of the miles of shoreline found in Minnesota. Thanks to the sharp eyes of a MNDNR Fisheries friend of mine, the curious mistake was revealed. Inexplicably I had written, "Minnesota can boast of having more than 6,700 square miles of shoreline".
To be seen or not to be seen; that is the solution, not the question. With creatures the world over, the colors and patterns of their coverings are much more than protection from the elements. For certain, few animals could survive for long without protective covering. But all those different color patterns seen in fur coats, feathers, skin, exoskeletons, and more, help critters blend in with their respective environments too.