Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Turkey vultures are amazing birds!

I've learned a lot about turkey vultures over the last several years, and they are now one of my favorite birds. They may have a face that only a mother would love, but they are very interesting.

Many people get creeped out when they see a vulture, as it reminds them of death, disease and doom. Fact is that turkey vultures (unlike black vultures) almost never kill their food. It is true that they may sense death and disease with their very sensitive sense of smell... because it is dead animals that they seek. But, what is really amazing about these birds is that they can eat a diseased animal and essentially dispose of the disease. They don't contract it themselves. But watch out... they use "defensive vomiting" if they see you as a predator. Defensive vomiting is when they throw up the gross, smelly meat they had eaten to scare you off.

It is pretty easy to spot a vulture in the sky. Their wings extend upward into the shape of a "V" when they soar on thermals. They are often in groups of 3 or 4, soaring around and around up in the sky. You will often see them in areas where the landscape changes because these areas are where they find the updrafts to ride on. Roadsides, along cliffs and along quarries are common places to find them.

Turkey vultures do not create nests, rather, they will situate an area in rocks along cliffs, in caves or other high locations.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Facebook Chat with me!

New London Sturgeon Spawning

Each Spring, sturgeon fish swim upstream to spawn. The "event" draws an audience from miles around because of their viewable display along the river banks. Sturgeon are very large and prehistoric-looking fish, sometimes measuring up to 6 feet long. 

The Wolf River, along highway X in New London, Wisconsin, is one of the spawning locations that draws thousands of visitors each year. Spawning occurs after the river water reaches 53 degrees. Depending on the weather each year, the timing on when the spawning occurs can be anytime between March and May. This year, due to the late winter/cold spring, it looks like we won't see spawning until well into May. When spawning begins, it only lasts for a couple of days. If you want to see it, you will need to be willing to head to New London soon after reports of spawning activity. I subscribed to the email updates a few years ago, so I receive notices each year. You can also call their hotline to get up-to-date information. (920) 303-5444

If you've never experienced a sturgeon spawning in Wisconsin, I would recommend going at least once and bring the kids! It's a very unique experience, and you don't get an idea of how unique and large sturgeon are until you see them in person.  

For more information about sturgeon spawning in Wisconsin, visit these websites: 

If you are interested in serving as a sturgeon guard, you can find more information here:


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Tree Swallows came back!

Last year I put up a cute birdhouse that I found at Target. I hung it out mostly for decoration in the yard, but I thought it would be great if a bird family actually used it as a home. I was excited when it was inhabited by a pair of tree swallows. I have tons of sparrows, juncos, finches and cardinals in the area, but this was the first time I saw tree swallows close by.

This year, I hoped the tree swallows would come back. This past Saturday morning I woke up and looked out and there they were! BUT, after watching them for a while I noticed that they were being surrounded by finches. We had a turf war going on. I saw a couple finches fly in and out of the house as the tree swallows perched on top. The swallows flew away at one point and I didn't see them the rest of the day. I thought they had been defeated and I was really bummed out.

Fortunately, I saw them back Monday morning and they are going in and out of the house with no finches surrounding them. I think they've officially moved back in and threw the finches things out on the lawn. :) While I love finches, I really wanted the tree swallows to stay around too.

I really do love migration and seeing old friends come back to the same place year after year. It amazes me how they can fly hundreds, if not thousands, of miles and find their way back to the same place.

I'd love to hear about the birds you have visiting your backyard. Do you have any special birdhouses or feeders to attract certain types of birds? Where do you live?

tree swallow

Monday, April 7, 2014

Welcome back to the blog!

Greetings friends! I had abandoned the blog for a while, but I wanted to get it going again. I like having the ability to tell some stories between writing the books.

Right now is Spring and migration time! One of my favorite times of the year and my cameras get a workout. Here are some pictures I recently took while working on Badger State of Mind presents: Waukesha County.

Sandhill Crane

Golden Crowned Kinglet


Killdeer with worm