The work of bees, butterflies and other pollinators is being assessed, measured and otherwise consumed as summer saunters ahead.
Potato pollination does not trigger tuber enlargement, but blooms can be a measure of the plant’s age and stage in development. As pretty and tomato-like as these purple and yellow blossoms present themselves, their meager fruit development will be arrested to dig the first small tubers, now ready for boiling water. The potato’s relative, the garden tomato, has salad fruits turning yellow and red, too.
Much more productive development, known as fruit of the bloom, is a bonanza production on black raspberry brambles. Moisture and heat are helping make the most of their pollinations. Plump aggregate fruits are some of the best. The birds, raccoons and other animals have found them. The seeds are apparent in roadside droppings of these frugivorous eaters, evidence of this plant’s means of natural distribution.
Pole beans, wild grapes and woodbines are climbing. Members of the squash family are flowering, but remember half of these flowers produce only pollen but never a cucumber or pumpkin fruit. Their reason is to strictly provide pollen.
Acknowledging a youngster’s opportunity to pick and eat wild fruits could be more valuable than any ardent outdoorsperson might imagine.
Mulberries are waning. Blackberries are green with envy. Lesser fruits await their time.
Large and small birds are developing flight feathers, but some not before biologists take advantage of flightless Canada geese, and earlier, bald eaglets. Most eagles have flown their nests, seemingly using Independence Day as a nest eviction marker.
Once eagles learn to fly, they never lose that ability unless they suffer severe injury or worse. Canada geese live a different life, using water as a shield when they cannot fly because their flight feathers have molted. Wildlife biologists and volunteers, some as young as 6 years, have been herding flightless geese to shore and penning them with fence panels so the birds’ populations can be assessed.
Each trapped Canada goose is sexed, aged and fitted with a numbered left leg band that stays with the bird until death. No longer is banding a means of tracking migration; that is left to GPS transmitters. These bands allow biologists to keep track of population balance when hunters take some. Are too many males or females being taken? Or too many old or young birds?
Banding activity has other indirect rewards. Volunteers can help play citizen scientist, better understand what the Department of Natural Resources is doing, and allow children and adults opportunities to carefully handle wildlife, if they don’t mind getting up early and soiling their clothing.
Population estimates and health assessments are conducted on many of Wisconsin’s hunted species, sometimes by hunter surveys, postcards, or counting animals when the congregate at mating sites. Crowing, gobbling and drumming counts are commonly done, followed by roadside counts of brood size.
A DNR trail camera program is adding interesting perspectives of infrequent or nocturnal animals.
Water has receded in places, making fishing reasonable again. Summer vacationers are flocking to the north woods for muskies, as they once did a century ago, some staying the entire summer mostly to fish the state’s game fish.
Roadsides, forests and farmlands provide opportunities to find the red, white and blues in blooms, fruits and mushrooms.
Slow and easy with all outdoors activities. The same for wildlife; do not unnecessarily cause them to run or fly.