Category Archives: Educational

Trumpeter Swans 101

Photo Courtesy of Steven Niewoehner

 

 

Trumpeter Swans were once common in Iowa, but the last wild mated pair nested in Iowa in 1883. They were completely gone from the state by the late 1880s. They were prized for their meat, skin and beautiful pure white feathers. By the early 1930s, only 69 remained in the lower 48 states.

In 1998, a wild pair were spotted in Dubuque County and hatched 3 that year.  In 1999, the pair hatched 5 and again in 2000.  Iowa DNR have been active in Trumpeter Swan releases. Interestingly, it has been found that released Swans do not migrate far from their release site. It has only been the past twenty years that they have rebounded through many conservation efforts. Trumpeter Swans are considered a conservation success story by many. However, they do have current threats with habitat loss, lead poisoning, power line accidents and are occasionally shot. It is illegal to hunt Trumpeter Swans.

These beautiful all-white birds are the largest North American waterfowl species. They can weigh from 25- 32 pounds with an average 8-9 foot wingspan. They have black beaks and black legs. They are often confused with Tundra Swan. The Trumpeter Swan’s scientific name, Cygnus buccinator, is from the Latin Cygnus (swan) and buccinare (to trumpet).

The male and female mate for life. If the male loses his mate, he often does not take a mate again. In the wild, they live to be up to 24 years old and in captivity around 33 years. Mating does not occur until they are at least three years old. Egg laying begins in late April or May with 4-6 eggs hatched being average. The eggs take 32-37 days to incubate and young take 90-120 days to fly after hatching. Their breeding habitat consists of large shallow ponds, undisturbed lakes, pristine wetlands and marshes. They use the same nesting site year after year. Their adult summer diet consists of aquatic plants with a winter diet of farm field grains and grasses. In a group, they fly in a V-shaped pattern. They are very affected by human disturbance and will abandon a nest if disturbed. They typically will nest within 600 feet of shore and need at least 100 yards of open water for take off to fly.

An estimated 160 trumpeter swans are currently wintering at the Dale Maffitt Reservoir and surrounding area southwest of Des Moines. This provides a rare opportunity to view good numbers of free flying Trumpeter Swans. Visit them soon before they move onto other areas.

Trumpeter Swan can also be spotted while paddling or hiking at Sweet Marsh Wildlife Area in Bremer County in the early spring.

To listen to Trumpeter Swan sounds, go
Information credits:  Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Wikipedia, Iowa DNR, Trumpeter Swan Society.

Full Moon Dates 2019

Mar 20: Wed., Sunrise 7:10, Sunset 7:21, MR 7:04 CDT: Worm Moon
Apr 19: Fri., Sunrise 6:20, Sunset 7:56, MR 8:21 CDT: Pink Moon
May 18: Sat., Sunrise 5:43, Sunset 8:28, MR 8:22 CDT: Flower Moon
Jun 17: Mon., Sunrise 5:30, Sunset 8:49, MR 9:17 CDT: Strawberry Moon
Jul 16: Tue., Sunrise 5:46, Sunset 8:44, MR 8:31 CDT: Buck Moon
Aug 15: Thu., Sunrise 6:16, Sunset 8:10, MR 8:39 CDT: Sturgeon Moon
Sep 14: Fri., Sunrise 6:48, Sunset 7:20, MR 8:02 CDT: Harvest Moon
Oct 13: Sun., Sunrise 7:20, Sunset 6:29, MR 6:54 CDT: Hunter’s Moon
Nov 12: Tue., Sunrise 6:57, Sunset 4:49, MR 5:17 CST: Beaver Moon
Dec 12: Wed.,Sunrise 7:30, Sunset 4:36, MR 5:13 CST: Cold Moon
MR= Moonrise

Becoming An Outdoors Woman: Save the Date: May 3-5, 2019

Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop now accepting registrations

Registration is open for spring Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop, May 3-5, originating from the PZAZZ! Convention and Events Center, in Burlington.

 

While the focus of BOW is primarily for women, the workshop is an opportunity for anyone 18 years or older to learn outdoor skills.”This workshop is all about introducing new participants to the outdoors and building social support networks so skills learned can be applied to other outdoor opportunities throughout the year,” said Rachel Ladd, with the Iowa Departments of Natural Resources.  “It’s an excellent opportunity to try activities under the guidance of our top-notch instructors.”
Workshop courses include wilderness survival, outdoor photography, intro to archery, kayaking basics, orienteering, pistol basics, Dutch oven cooking, kayak fishing, explore bow hunting, backpacking and hiking, intro to fishing, canning, wild game and fish care, boater education and more. Attendees taking intro to fishing, kayak fishing or talking turkey hunt are required to have purchased a valid Iowa license prior to arrival.

 

A Friday evening auto tour through Heritage Hill National Historic District will highlight many architectural periods and styles in nearly 160 structures in the northern sector of downtown Burlington, and its most famous landmark, Snake Alley.

 

A Friday night reception, sponsored by Aldo Leopold Pheasants Forever Chapter and Parkside Brewing, will connect Iowa’s wild pheasant population and bees, and pollinators role in the art of brewing.

 

The cost of the workshop is $330 (single occupancy), $280 (double occupancy), and $250 (no lodging) before March 29. After March 29, registration is $300 and will not include lodging. The fee includes program materials, equipment, lodging and meals. Enrollment is limited to 115 participants. A limited number of $140 scholarships are available.

 

“Make sure to choose one class for each session, each class will show the number of seats still available and once a class has filled, it will be closed. Attendees will know what sessions they are in at the completion of the registration process,” Ladd said.

 

Early registration is encouraged as enrollment is limited and workshop spaces and lodging fill quickly.  Go to www.iowadnr.gov/bow to download a registration form, select classes and for more information on applying for a scholarship.

 

The event is being held in partnership with the Greater Burlington Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Des Moines County Conservation Board and the Iowa DNR.

 

For more information, contact Rachel Ladd at 515-729-6037 or Rachel.Ladd@dnr.iowa.gov.

Bald Eagle Watch Dates

Photo Courtesy of Steven Niewoehner
February 9th
Des Moines Bald Eagle Watch | 10am to 3pm
  • What: Bald Eagle Day
  • When: 9th 10:00am -3:00 pm
  • Where: Fellowship Baptist Church 1503 SE 6th Street and on the SE 6th Street Bridge
  • For Additional information: Contact Joel at 515 248 6369  www.parksEE@dmgov.org
February 22-23
Effigy Mounds National Monument, Bald Eagle Appreciation Event
  • Contact Effigy Mounds National Monument: 563-873-3491 ext. 123
February 24
Saylorville Bald Eagle Watch | 12pm to 4pm
  • 12-4 pm eagle viewing on the lake with spotting scopes and interpreters. Cottonwood Rec Area and Bob Shetler Rec Area will be open for viewing. Eagle movie at the lake visitor center.
  • 1-3 pm Jester Park with have live birds presentations on the hour.
  • Participants can pick up a passport at either location and when complete can enter into a drawing.
  • Stop by the Saylorville Visitor’s Center to learn about the bald eagle, then venture outside to view them in their natural habitat. Jester Park Lodge will host a live eagle used for education. Hourly programs start at 1 pm. FREE. No registration required.
March 2
O’Brien County Bald Eagle Watch | 9am to 4 pm
  • At the Prairie Heritage Center, 4931 Yellow Ave. , Peterson, IA 51047
  • For more information Contact the Prairie Heritage Center at 712-295-7200 or visit the website at www.prairieheritagecenter.org

Paddle Sport Expo Dates

South Central Iowa Expo:
Feb 8-9-10: Canoesport Outfitters 23rd Annual Iowa Paddlesport Expo, Indianola. Contact Jeff Holmes and the CSO staff at  info@canoesportoutfitters.com Details and printable presentation schedule at   https://www.canoesportoutfitters.com/
Feb 9: Nick’s Pre-Expo Breakfast Rendezvous, 7:30 am at Crouse Cafe 115 E. Salem in Indianola (3 blocks E of CSO). Annual gathering of old & new paddling friends enroute to Iowa Paddlesport Expo. Contact Nick Gaeta nick.gaeta@live.com
Feb 9: Iowa Whitewater Coalition (IWC) Annual Meeting at CSO Paddlesport Expo in Indianola, 5:00-6:00 pm. Agenda TBD. Open to visitors, but only IWC dues-paying members may vote. More info at  http://iowawhitewater.org
Feb 9: Nick’s Post-Expo Mexican Dinner, 5:30 pm at la Casa Restaurant 508 N Jefferson (Hwy 65) in Indianola. Annual gathering of old & new paddling friends following Saturday session of Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo. Contact Nick Gaeta by email.  nick.gaeta@live.com
Northeast Iowa Expo:
Feb 23: Indian Creek Nature Center “12th Annual Paddle Day,” in Cedar Rapids. Registration begins at 8:30am. Dr. Jim Pease confirmed as Keynote Speaker. Six break out sessions. Contact Sarah Botkin at sbotkin@indiancreeknaturecenter.org. Program info, advance ticket sales, directions at

Midwest Expo: 

Mar 8-10: Canoecopia in Madison, WI. Event info at http://www.canoecopia.com/canoecopia

US Fish and Wildlife Report: USFW Fisheries received three Pallid Sturgeon in December to help with species recovery

 

Pallid sturgeon are bottom dwelling, slow growing fish that feed primarily on small fish and immature aquatic insects. This species of sturgeon is seldom seen and is one of the least understood fish in the Missouri and Mississippi River drainages. It is an ancient species that has existed since the days of the dinosaurs.

The recovery efforts include research to learn more about its life history and habitat requirements, artificial propagation to improve its numbers, habitat improvement and reducing mortality from commercial fishing.

Species Description: The pallid sturgeon has a flattened, shovel-shaped snout, possesses a long, slender, and completely armored caudal peduncle, and lacks a spiracle and belly scutes. Pallid sturgeon are bottom-oriented species. Pallid sturgeon can be long-lived (40+ years), with females reaching sexual maturity later than males. Pallid sturgeon at the northern end of their range can obtain sizes much larger than fish at the southern end of their range.

The pallid sturgeon experienced a dramatic decline throughout its range since the mid to late 1960’s. Nearly all of its habitat has been modified through river channelization,
construction of impoundments and related changes in water flow. These changes blocked the pallid sturgeon’s movements, destroyed or altered its spawning areas, reduced its food sources or its ability to obtain food, and altered water temperatures and other environmental conditions necessary for the fish’s survival.

Pallid sturgeon are bottom dwelling, slow growing fish that feed primarily on small fish and immature aquatic insects. This species of sturgeon is seldom seen and is one of the least understood fish in the Missouri and Mississippi River drainages. It is an ancient species that has existed since the days of the dinosaurs.

The recovery efforts include research to learn more about its life history and habitat requirements, artificial propagation to improve its numbers, habitat improvement and reducing mortality from commercial fishing.

Species Description: The pallid sturgeon has a flattened, shovel-shaped snout, possesses a long, slender, and completely armored caudal peduncle, and lacks a spiracle and belly scutes. Pallid sturgeon are bottom-oriented species. Pallid sturgeon can be long-lived (40+ years), with females reaching sexual maturity later than males. Pallid sturgeon at the northern end of their range can obtain sizes much larger than fish at the southern end of their range.

Species Factsheet:

Location: Pallid sturgeon are found only in portions of the Missouri and Mississippi River basins. More specifically, the species is known to occur in the following areas:
  • Missouri River in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota
  • Mississippi River in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois (downstream from Melvin Price Locks and Dam), Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri (downstream from Melvin Price Locks and Dam), and Tennessee
  • Platte River in Nebraska downstream of Elkhorn River confluence
  • a portion of the Kansas River downstream from Bowersock Dam
  • Yellowstone River in North Dakota and Montana downstream of the Bighorn River confluence
  • and the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana
    Habitat: Mississippi River downstream of its confluence with the Missouri River; Ohio River below Dam #53; Missouri River
There have been occasional observations in the lower Big Sioux River of South Dakota, the Grand River in Missouri, and the Mississippi River near Keokuk, Iowa.
For more information, please click on this link:
The Pallid Sturegeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) is currently listed 
as Endangered as of Sept 6, 1990. 
 
 Photo by South Dakota Game Fish and Parks; Sam Stuke