Within the last two weeks, our area has seen a new stage set. Lengthening days, warmer weather, open water, accessible wetlands and the early buzzing of insects have tempted this spring’s cast into an early performance.
What would this show be without a chorus? As moderating temperatures first lifted the curtain from the sullen winter landscape, spring peeper and chorus frogs performed in the opening act, bursting into their birdlike, trilling peeps and funny burpings. Their happy songs always make me smile, and I love to sit and listen to this opening rendition of “life.”
I noticed the red-winged blackbirds the very day that the frogs’ choir erupted. Like the leading man of a musical, the red-wing begs to be noticed. The males bounced upon prominent perches while flashing their brilliant red epaulets as they belted out their “conk-a-ree-onk” love song while searching for mates.
The killdeer was the next in spring’s production. While not nearly the showboat that the red-wing tends to be, these stilt-legged supporting actors shout their name repeatedly as they wing over fields and dance along the ground. Never one to be found alone, the first sightings quickly multiplied.
Every show must have the oft-misunderstood villain. This position was filled by the return of the year’s first turkey vultures, soaring high above our fields. Their ominous silhouette and nature’s bad makeup job have led to misunderstanding and superstition. Like the beauty’s beast, they are shy and harmless. They only want to be left alone to do nature’s janitorial work.
The final act of this early release comes as the sun’s spotlight fades and the set darkens. A woodcock has returned to our home’s pastures and meadows to perform its aerial ballet, complete with some sudden stunt-flying as it tumbles to its terrestrial stage where it sings its sad “peent” lament as it waddles awkwardly about. It then suddenly returns to the sky to repeat the dance until darkness and fatigue close the show.
Each season has its own grace. To me, spring is truly the Easter so many seek. It’s the rebirth of a world that was never truly gone, but one just waiting to be rediscovered.
Don’t be content being a spectator. There’s much you can do for wildlife to improve habitat. As for me, 30 new trees and a new pollinator field will be added as props on my little stage to help support future acts.
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” — Aristotle
“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!” — Sitting Bull
Along the way:
Wildlife officials often get calls from folks who spot coyotes in urban or suburban areas. According to the Division of Wildlife, this is seldom a cause for alarm.
Coyotes are highly adaptable and live in a wide variety of environments. It isn’t necessary to report sightings unless the animal appears sick, hurt or seems to have lost its natural fear of humans.
Here are a few steps to keep in mind if you encounter an urban coyote in the Buckeye State.
1. Understand that coyotes are common throughout Ohio and are regularly seen within city limits. Wolves are not a species found wild in Ohio.
2. If you spot a coyote on your property, make sure to remove attractants to deter them from returning. This includes securing garbage and removing outside pet food before nightfall. Remember to clean up around the grill as well.
3. Coyotes’ primary prey are small mammals such as rabbits and rodents; however, interactions with domestic pets have occurred. Keep small dogs and cats inside (especially between sunset and sunrise). Motion-activated lighting is helpful at keeping wildlife away.
4. Occasionally, an inquisitive coyote will stay put and watch you curiously. Clap your hands and shout; the coyote will usually move along. If it doesn’t, get louder. A coyote that loses fear of humans can become a threat and should be reported.
5. If a coyote continues visiting your yard after the use of harassment techniques, you can find a licensed nuisance trapper by calling the Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE.
Nuisance trappers use techniques to target individual animals and to reduce urban wildlife conflicts. They do charge for the service. Coyote populations in rural areas can be managed through legal hunting and trapping methods. Learn more about coyotes by visiting www.wildohio.gov.
Meredith Gilbert is the new wildlife communications specialist for the Division of Wildlife’s District Two Headquarters in Findlay. She will be responsible for writing and forwarding news releases concerning wildlife resources.
Born in Tiffin, Meredith is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast. An Ohio State University graduate with a degree in zoology, her work experience includes monitoring bird nest success rates while working for Ohio State and with the Columbus Zoo’s education department. She can be reached at 419-429-8359. News releases are available at www.wildohio.gov.
• Tomorrow: Sporting clays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• March 17-19: Ohio Deer and Turkey Expo, State Fairgrounds, Ohio Expo Center, Bricker Building, 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus. Visit www.deerinfo.com/ohio.
• March 18: Pheasants Forever Fundraiser and Banquet, Sterling Center, Hancock County Humane Society. Contact Mark Plesec at email@example.com for tickets. Visit: www.hancockpf.org.
• March 24: Ohio Botanical Symposium, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Villa Milano Banquet and Conference Center, 1630 Schrock Road, Columbus. Preregistration is required. Visit www.cmnh.org/obs.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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