The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 3, 2013

Wildlife well fed for winter season

BY SAM VAN CAMP
Commercial-News

DANVILLE —  We have had a good winter thus far as far as wildlife being able to find food and maintain good nutrition. The snow cover has been light and, except for a brief amount of ice, there hasn’t been a problem with finding food.

January and February have always been considered the dead of winter around this area and many times wildlife need an extra helping hand to make it through the winter. These two months are very hard on wildlife as a rule and the weak, the injured, the sick and the young are many times eliminated. It is nature’s way of thinning out the herd so to speak.

You might recall the severe ice storm we had two years ago, that was a tough one on wildlife and that is when my wife and I began religiously feeding the birds and squirrels around our home and now it has become a major project.

My wife and I, along with our cats, enjoy sitting near our bedroom window and watching the birds as they feed. We get to view close-up cardinals, blue jays, titmice, woodpeckers, chickadees, finches, doves and a whole bunch of sparrows in the winter time.

As hard as we work to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeders, as they have feeders of their own, those crafty little devils always seem to find a way to steal our peanuts.

There is a lot of enjoyment to be had feeding some of the animals around your home; heck, one night we had a big opossum at one of the feeders.

Enjoy the rest of winter and give a little thought to helping out the wildlife in your area when times get tough for them. Who knows, you might find the same enjoyment that we get everyday from our feeders.

Crow hunting

Did you know there is a hunting season for crows? You can hunt crows through February 28th with the season beginning ½ hour before sunrise to sunset. There is no limit on crows.

I have never seen a crow at our bird feeder as they feed more on garbage and road killed animals and not on seeds. Crows are one of the more intelligent birds but I ran into a much smarter bird this fall on vacation in the west; the raven.

The raven, similar to a crow in appearance but with a much different voice is ranked as maybe the most intelligent of the birds.

One encounter with a raven on vacation caught me trying to coax the bird into eating a piece of a cookie from my hand. The bird would stop about three feet from me and cock his head. I would lay the piece of cookie down and back away and he would come and grab it. I tried to get him to eat from my hand but he never would come and take the piece of cookie from me.

I finally went and got a whole cookie and offered it to him. He would squawk and cock his head and finally, figuring his life must be worth the entire cookie, he came and took it from my hand.

The moral to this story is, your life is not worth risking for a small piece of cookie but the entire cookie changes the entire picture.

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: pamnsam@nwcable.net