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A band of four coyotes came down a pasture ravine, two were run off, leaving the remaining pair to themselves.

Two red-tailed hawks, one older, perched in an oak tree top; neither left without the other.

A convocation of three bald eagles, one likely no longer a family member, waited for swimming food to surface in a trout stream. The two adults continued to remove snow from their nest as best they could in preparation of egg-laying, incubating and bringing food or tag-teaming for the next 36 days. Then brooding, feeding and protecting consume the next 100 days.

In spite of record lows, snowfalls, freezing rains and gusting winds, numerous large birds and some mammals are planning next generations.

Turkeys will wait for better weather, deer are approaching midpoint in gestation and cardinals are reflection-boxing themselves on basement windows as if to say this shrub has been claimed and is now occupied.

All animal life, including returning migrants, has to eat to survive. Sandhill cranes have found lowland areas where springs soften the frost. Red-winged blackbirds perch on leaning cattails, find no food there and go elsewhere.

Turkey rafts have found remaining crabapple shrubs fulfilling, but burdock fruit burs seem to be more work than worthwhile. One could imagine the exercise quickly consumes the tiny seeds’ energy. Tree squirrels, gray and fox, have turned to budding like grouse, picking on maple flower buds.

It may be they came looking for leaking sap or sapcicles, and finding none, took what was handy. But these rodents will be back. Sucrose in any form seems to be a powerful attractant.

Fish deal with a more constant temperature but are generally reluctant to follow a fly or take a grub and plastic look-a-like. But 786 very large fish, lake sturgeon, were duped for investigating a decoy. That brought an end to the spearing season, which proceeded full length in some waters. Almost immediately following the last afternoon closure, reports were out with numbers, including noting 32 fish each topped 100 pounds.

Why must enthusiasts who gather other fish and game sometimes wait weeks to knowing the final score of the recreation?

While a few bird varieties will be leaving in the weeks ahead, many more migrants have already begun to put down their landing gears. It matters not, too, whether the bluebirds and robins sighted were some who remained or returned. We’ll take them all as a sign of spring coming early. Sunny days already bring a little maple sap, too.

Turkeys, pheasants and soon ruffed grouse, sharptails and prairie chickens will be acting like they own their grounds. It does seem, though, the snow and cold temperatures impact crowing, gobbling and booming to a degree or maybe we just don’t bother to be outside to notice.

Events looming are counter sales of turkey authorizations (we used to call them permits), spring hearings, license renewals and some regulations relating to ice fishing.

Now that many of the other animals are going about their late winter routines, maybe it’s time for outdoors enthusiasts to break out too, and look for nesting owls, incubating eagles, flowering skunk cabbage, expanding catkins, assessing deer and rabbit damage and tying some flies for April trout fishing.

— Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at or 608-924-1112.

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