During the recent cool nights we’ve been having, it’s a good time to open the windows and experience some night sounds. What I’m referring to are the sounds of crickets.
These seldom seen but heard during late summer nights, crickets are distributed around the world except in latitude 55 degrees or higher. They can be found in varied habitat from grasslands, bushes, forests, marshes, beaches and caves. In most of our Lehigh Valley yards, they hide mostly in flower beds or along walls or fences with high grass.
Crickets are mainly nocturnal and best known for their loud, persistent chirping song of males trying to attract females, although some species are mute. The singing species are said to have good hearing. Proof of this is upon approaching one in your yard when they’re chirping, they’ll immediately stop.
As for the chirping, a male cricket, with its head facing its burrow in a flower bed for example, creates its chirping using its leathery fore wings to scrape against each other to produce the sound. Its burrow acts as a resonator to amplify the sound.
According to entomologists, crickets have a vein that runs along the center of each tegmen, with comb-like serrations on its edge forming a file-like structure. At the rear edge of the tegmen is a scraper. The tegmina are held at an angle to the body and rhythmically raised and lowered which causes the scraper on one wing to rasp on the file on the other. Most female crickets lack the necessary adaptations to stridulate, so make no sound.
Like birds, crickets have several types of songs in their repertoire. The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and the latter is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female cricket is near and encourages her to mate with the caller. A triumphal song is produced for a brief period after a successful mating, and may reinforce the mating bond to encourage the female to lay some eggs rather than find another male.
As for their diet, some species will feed on flowers, fruit and leaves, with ground-based species favoring seedlings, grasses, pieces of leaf and the shoots of young plants. Others are more predatory and include invertebrate eggs, larva, pupae, moulting insects and aphids. Many are scavengers and will consume various organic remains, decaying plants, seedlings and fungi.
Crickets’ lifecycles consist of an egg stage, a larval or nymph stage that increasingly resembles the adults that eventually form into an adult stage.
Their predators are mostly opossums and skunks. We’ve had a cricket in our flower garden beneath our bedroom window the last two months. Last week, we smelled a skunk and upon checking our security cameras the next morning, low and behold old stinky was foraging around in our garden evidently looking for a cricket meal.
So, before the cold temperatures of fall arrive and the crickets burrow in for the winter, enjoy the night sounds of summer.
The much-anticipated archery deer hunting season is set to open in a split season beginning Sept. 18 including a Sunday date on Nov. 14, in Wildlife Management Areas 2B, 5C and 5D. After that in these WMU’s, the season runs Nov. 15-20; continues on a second Sunday, Nov. 21; and goes from Nov. 22-26 and again Dec. 27-Jan. 29.
The statewide season opens Oct. 2. To Nov. 14 (Sunday), then again on Nov. 15-19, then Dec. 27-Jan.17.
In 2020, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) reported that 373,700 archery licenses were sold, a big difference from the 5,500 sold during the first archery season in 1951. These numbers go to show the increase in popularity of bowhunting in Pennsylvania.
These totals also reflect that bowhunters managed to take 160,380 deer of which 80,130 were bucks in 2020. This accounts for 37 percent of the overall 2020 deer harvest.
The local WMU archery seasons estimated harvest breakdown is as follows. The numbers in parenthesis are last season’s totals with “A” representing antlered and “AL” representing antlerless deer AL.
WMU 3C: 2,670 (2250) A; 2,240 (1,470) AL
WMU 4C: 3,260 (3,550) A; 2,890 (2,960) AL
WMU 5C: 5,810 (5,330) A; 7,410 (7,075) AL
WMU 5D: 1,790 (2,180) A; 4,310 (4,460) AL
Here are some PGC rule updates for the upcoming season.
*Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts, as they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, the PGC says transmitter-tracking arrows remain illegal.
*As for tree stands and climbing devices, the PGC mandates that both forms that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has permission from the landowner. Tree stands or steps that penetrate a tree’s cambium layer causes damage and is unlawful to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on state game lands, state forests or state parks are illegal. Portable hunting tree stands and blinds are allowed on state game lands, must be removed no later than two weeks after the close of the flintlock and late archery deer seasons in WMU’s being hunted. And those used on state game lands must be conspicuously marked with a durable I.D. tag that identifies the stand owner and include the hunter’s full name, legal home address and nine-digit CID number that appears on their hunting license.
Some other tips for tree stand hunting is hunters should use a fall restraining device, preferably a full-body harness and be used the moment leaving the ground. The PGC strongly suggests not climbing on dead or icy trees and to stay on the ground on blustery days.
Oh yes. And don’t sleep in a tree stand. If sleepy, get down.
In retrospect I once owned and used a Screaming Eagle fixed tree stand. It was made of heavy steel and very sturdy. The company, at the time, would advertise it showing it holding a VW beetle bug coupe. Only part that would worry me was during set-up as it came with a hefty chain that would encircle the tree then hook onto the stand. To complete the installation, the company recommended jumping on it a couple times to set it onto the tree as I hugged the tree. At that time there were no body harnesses on the market, so I used a utility line worker’s type belt with rope, carabiner and thick steel O-ring for attachment. But it still worried me that the stand would slide down as did a Loggy Bayou climber I once owned.
Every year a few hunters fall from a tree stand, some of which are fatal falls. So a word to the wise, use a harness, even on a ladder stand.
Here are a few more safety tips on tree stands from the PGC.
*Choose a live, straight tree and avoid ash that may decline due to emerald ash borers.
*But Smart. Only use stands certified by the Treestand Manufacturers Association,
*Inspect your stand each time you use them for wear and tear and before erecting it.
*Don’t go too high. The higher up you go, the vital zone on a deer decreases, while the likelihood of a serious injury increases.
*Be careful with long-term placement as exposure to the elements can damage straps, ropes and attachment cords. Plus, a stand’s stability can be compromised over time, and as the tree grows.
Gray squirrels are the most populated small game species in the state. And their hunting seasons are lengthy.
These bushy-tailed, nimble, acrobatic residents of tree tops, are bird feeder robbers and are opportunists. The other day I watched as one had a piece of pepperoni pizza in its mouth that it deposited on my neighbor’s porch. I couldn’t resist calling my neighbor to tell him Domino’s just delivered a pizza to his house.
And as said, they’re nimble, as they can hang by one foot on a thin limb to grab a nut from another branch of a walnut tree. One time while bowhunting from a tree stand, I watched as a squirrel was being chased in a tree by another squirrel and it lost its footing. It fell about 14 feet to the woodland floor but merely bounced once, then scampered off seemingly unscathed from the fall.
Squirrel hunting is a good way to introduce youngsters to the sport of hunting. As a mentor, this can be done by sitting together against a tree and scanning the treetops. And sometimes they can be called in. One simple trick used for generations is to suck on the back of a hand to make a squeaking sound. It may be enough to pique a squirrel’s curiosity and draw it into shooing range.
Speaking of shooting, squirrels can be hunted with a shotgun and small #8 shot. Problem with this is picking the spent shot out the squirrel’s body so you don’t break a tooth when eating it. A scoped .22 caliber rifle is better for a youngster as recoil is negligible compared to a shotgun, plus it sharpens a junior hunter’s shooting skills.
One good choice if you don’t already have a .22LR, is a Henry Rifle that are made in the USA. You may have seen their TV ads as they offer .22s in lever and pump actions, plus carbines that are shorter in length for a youngster. They’re quality rifles that can be handed down to upcoming generations.
In addition, squirrel’s make good table fare as their meat is sweet as their diets consist of nuts, flower buds, berries, mushrooms, pine seeds, germ at the base of a corn kernel, dogwood, wild cherry and black gum fruits. (Incidentally, the pizza scavenger squirrel didn’t eat the pizza, but merely deposited it for my neighbor to throw away)
For junior hunters, with or without a required license, squirrel hunting season runs Sept. 11-25 and that includes a Nov. 14, Sunday hunt, one of two with the other falling on Sunday, Nov. 21.
The regular squirrel season runs concurrent with a split season of Sept. 11-Nov.13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov.15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21; Nov. 22-26; Dec. 13-24 and Dec. 27-Feb. 28, 2022.
LIL’LE HI TROUT NURSERY SUSTAINED FISH LOSS
As a result of the rains from hurricane IDA, Lehigh Parkway’s Lil-Le Hi trout nursery sustained some damage and loss of fish. Visiting there after the storm on Thursday, volunteers from local sportsmen’s clubs were in the process of cleaning up and attempting to recapture any live and dead fish that got swept away. At that time, workers said they couldn’t get an idea of the number of fish loss until the water receded.
Since then, Herb Gottschall, president of Lehigh County Fish & Game, said they believe they lost about 200 fish that were in the 6-20-inch class. And those would have been stocked in area streams in 2022.
During these dog days of summer, local fishing action can be tough. Especially on local streams and rivers.
Willie Marx, from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, says the Lehigh River is high, ripping and chocolate colored from the rains we’ve had, so forget fishing it. But he hears lakes like Mauch Chunk are yielding largemouth bass while Leaser Lake is producing good numbers of largemouths and muskies, both of which must be immediately released.
At Chris’ Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, Chris said Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County has been producing good numbers of large and smallmouth bass on Senko worms and jigs.
At Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County, anglers are taking largemouths by working frog lures over the many Lilly pads there.
He’s been selling a lot of trout for Leaser Lake anglers who are targeting the huge (catch-release) muskies there. Largemouth bass too are hitting well but both must be immediately released unharmed.
Otherwise, most of the angling action is at New Jersey shore points.
First up is Capt. Howard Bogan of the Jamaica, who reports his trips are hauling in bluefish up to 12 pounds as well as some sea bass and a few sizable fluke. He has offshore tuna trips planned and recommends checking his website for dates and times.
On the Water Magazine has received decent fluke, bluefish and albacore reports. For example, Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, NJ, says it was an excellent week for jumbo fluke with the biggest weighed so far was a 13-pounder caught aboard the Big Mohawk. The Ocean Explorer got a 12 pounder with Capt. Cal II bringing in blues up to 12 pounds. The Shark River is loaded with snappers while false albacore are plentiful in the Shark River Inlet jetties. Most are being caught on Epoxy jigs.
Giglio’s Bait & Tackle in Sea Bright reports albies appeared off Monmouth Beach on Tuesday and were in Sea Bright on Wednesday. They also report good crabbing action.
Rich Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, said giant bluefin were being taken off Rockaway and added that the fluke bite was good on the reefs and wrecks.
Capt. Phil Sciortino, at the Tackle Box in Hazlet, reports a 130-pound bluefin was caught in the Sandy Hook Channel last week. Blues have been appearing all over the place and fluking has been good at Scotland Grounds and the Rattlesnake with porgies hitting at Breezy Point.
John Vafiadis, at the Reel Seat in Brielle, said his customers are catching everything from false albacore, Spanish mackerel and bonito along the beaches and outside the Manasquan Inlet. He added that fluking has been good on all the local reefs with giant bluefin being found not far from shore. There are also a number of southern kingfish while the canyons are giving up bigeye tuna, swordfish and wahoo. “It’s been crazy,” he concluded.
If you’re heading to the beaches, On the Water says the schools don’t stay in one place for long. But chasing them can be frustrating. So, it may be better to stay put and let them come to you.
The first part of the small game hunting season, when dove and resident goose population season, kicks off Sept. 1.
Dove are the most populated small game bird in the state. And are challenging to hunt for two reasons. First, they’re fast flyers as they can dip, dart and reach speeds up to 70 mph with a tail wind. Perhaps faster when peppered by a load of #7 shot.
It’s been said dove are more challenging targets than a round of skeet or trap. Unlike claybirds, whose flight paths are generally known, doves offer every wing shot possible. You’ll have incomers, outgoers, quartering right, quartering left, crossing in front, crossing behind and overhead shots. And once the smoothbore barks, expect the whistling wings to turn on the afterburners and high-tail it out of the area.
The second hardest part of dove hunting is finding a spot to hunt them. As dove are small-grain lovers, look for a harvested grain field for starters. If there is water nearby, so much the better.
Cornfields are good attractors, especially if some ragweed or foxtail grows throughout. However, farmers don’t appreciate hunters traipsing throughout their standing corn, which is predominant right now. Instead, hunt the perimeters and pass up birds flying into the corn as opposed to coming out of it. Aside from that, downed birds are very difficult to located in the standing corn unless you have a good hunting dog to send in.
Upon filling their crops with wheat, corn, ragweed or sunflowers, doves will head off to pick grit and drink water before they roost for the night. This usually happens from about 4 p.m. until sunset. It’s at this time when the shooting action can be fast and frequent.
But it’s important to see doves on-the-wing to learn their flight routes. Scout trees along these routes and try to determine which trees along field edges doves prefer. There’s often a pattern to their movement according to veteran dove hunters.
As for a stand site, take advantage of natural vegetation such as high weeds, a corn-row middle, clumps of bushes, brush or a tree in the middle of a field. Most importantly, remaining still when a bird is sighted is probably the best tip.
If you cannot locate a local dove spot, try state game lands that have cover crops planted such as those on SGL 205 in Lowhill Township, off Route 100. But expect lots of company.
Another good bet are the vast fields in upper Berks County around Topton, Maxatawny, Fleetwood, Lyons, which are predominately owned by Mennonite farmers. Some are even posted as Safety Zones but ask hunting permission first.
Observing dove sitting on the utility wires is also a good sign that there’s a flyway nearby.
As for geese, they’re on the wing and making early morning feeding flights from their resting spots on Lake Muhlenberg and Dorney Park pond. Some can also be found on the Lehigh River and at Leaser Lake in upper Lehigh County and Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County. The question is, where are they putting down once they leave water to feed? Scouting is the best bet.
Unfortunately, local corn and soybean fields are still unharvested making it more difficult to locate a feeding field. As for resident geese, they’ll often hit the same spot day after day until crop fields are harvested then they’ll hit those. And if you're looking for a goose hunting spot, Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County has announced that portions of lake property is open to goose hunting, It's recommended stopping in the lake office for a map of the open areas.
The split dove season runs Sept. 1-Oct. 25 and again from Dec. 16-Jan. 1. whereas goose season has longer runs from Sept. 1-25; Oct. 23-Nov. 26; Dec. 13-Jan. 15; Feb. 4- Feb. 26. Check the Hunting/Trapping Digest for field and possession limits and necessary hunting stamps.
Right about now bats may be finding their way into attics, garages or even living quarters.
Such was the case of my next-door neighbor’s house who we playfully called “The Bat House” because every summer it seemed, she got a bat or two in her house. And since the top floor of her home is an apartment, she has no attic where a bat could enter.
She surmised that either bats came in from her chimney, or at night when a door was opened in her enclosed patio and she wouldn’t notice it right away. There was no other explanation why her home and not ours or her neighbor on the other side of her house, had bats.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) says there are nine species of bats that live at least part of the year in northeastern U.S. and two southern species reside infrequently in Pennsylvania. The agency claims these bats occasionally enter homes most often during summer evenings in mid-July and August. These wayward bats, they contend, are usually pups (baby bats) that are just beginning to fly.
As with my elderly neighbor, the bat would fly in circles around her living room evidently looking for a place to escape or rest.
While there are stories of bats attacking people, getting in their hair while they sleep, they could conceivably carry rabies.
But bats are useful as they can consume as many as 500 insects in an hour or nearly 3,000 every night. A colony of just 100 little brown bats, the most abundant species in the Northeast, may consume more than a quarter million mosquitoes and other small insects each night.
Research has shown that over a course of a summer, a colony of 150 brown bats can eat 38,000 cucumber beetles, 16,000 June bugs, 19,000 stink bugs and 50,000 leafhoppers, and can prevent the hatching of 18 million corn rootworms by devouring the adult beetles.
So, if you get one in your residence, how do you get rid of it?
The PGC says to not chase or swat at it as it will only cause it to panic and fly erratically around the room. Instead, shut all doors to confine the bat then open all windows or door leading outside to give the bat a chance to escape. Don’t try to herd it toward a window, just allow it to get its bearings until it discovers the open escape route. Within 10-15 minutes the bat should settle down and fly out.
If this doesn’t work, and the bat rests on a wall, the PGC suggests quickly putting a large plastic bowl over it and then slide a piece of rigid cardboard between the bowl and wall to trap it, then carry it outside. Here, it’s recommended to place the container on the ground such as a ledge or against a tree, and slide the cardboard out. Unlike birds, most bats must drop from a perch to catch air under their wings before they can fly.
As for my neighbor (who has passed and would comically say bats drove her batty), she used to use a close-knit fishing net to capture the bat in a similar way, then release it outside.
At their recent quarterly meeting, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission recently proposed a few changes that will be good news to anglers.
First off, there will be no fishing license price increase for 2022. The PFBC said that because of revenue generated by an increase in license sales in 2020 and 2021, a price increase is not currently needed.
A resident fishing license will remain at $22.97 and a Trout Permit will remain at $9.97. The PFBC adds that a fishing license fees have remained the same since 2005.
In other business, it was proposed that the opening of the 2022 trout season will again be a single statewide opening day as it was this year. For 2022, trout season will begin the first Saturday in April. The Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day will begin the Saturday before the statewide opener.
“Through a wealth of public input, including angler surveys presenting opening day options, it became clear that our agency and most Pennsylvania anglers value and prefer a single opening day of trout season moving forward,” said Tim Schaeffer, PFB Executive Director.
As for pre-season trout stockings, that has in the past been set for March 1, in 2022 it will start two weeks earlier on the first Monday in February.
The PFBC Board also voted to adopt amended regulations pertaining to authorized devices for ice fishing. The new amendment will allow for legal use of devices such as the JawJacker, Automatic Fisherman, Easy Set Hooksetter, Sure Shot Hooksetter and Bro Craft Ice Fishing Tip-Up while ice fishing. The argument for allowing such devices is that the fish are nearly always hooked in the lip. As such, fish do not get the chance to swallow the bait, allowing anglers to return non-targeted and undersized fish to the water unharmed.
Under these changes, the PFBC says anglers must still be active participants in fishing, be nearby their equipment and land the fish as quickly as possible.
The new regulations will go in effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Southwick Associates, a marking research and economics company who does surveys specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing and other outdoor recreation markets, is reporting that ammunition demand will remain strong well into 2021.
In April 2021, Southwick Associates surveyed more than 1,800 ammunition consumers as part of its quarterly HunterSurvey/ShooterSurvey tracking study. In 2020, four out of five consumers encountered out of stock issues while trying to purchase ammunition, while three-quarters encountered out of stock situations so far in 2021. Of these respondents, 79% reported either fully or partially reducing their target shooting and hunting outings as a result of depleted ammunition shelves.
Nearly two-thirds of ammunition consumers report their current ammunition inventory was lower than they would prefer. When asked why they desire more ammunition, key reasons included:
* Uncertainty about future ammunition supplies (72%). This is especially true among consumers 45+ years of age.
* Uncertainty about future restrictions on ammunition purchases (70%).
* Uncertainty about future economic conditions (54%).
* Increased shooting and hunting activity (26%). This was more common among the 25-34 year-old consumers.
"At some point, demand will certainly soften,” reports Rob Southwick, President of Southwick Associates. “However, frenzied purchasing and empty shelves often fuels further increases in demand. We do not see demand softening in the near future.”
Kayak fishing has grown in popularity so much so that there’s even competitive kayak fishing tournaments just like the various high-powered bass boat bass fishing tournaments where big bucks are at stake for the winners with the heaviest amount of bass in their boats live-wells.
The advantages of kayak fishing is that allows anglers to fish from a boat that costs less than most bass boats and allows anglers to fish shallow waters where bigger boats can’t reach. And since kayaks are quiet running, they also spook less fish.
Avid kayak angler Derek Sigler from Outdoor Hub site, says probably the first question prospective kayak anglers ask how do I cast from a shaky kayak. “When you try to cast for the first time you’re most likely to feel like the craft is going to tip over on you and it may just freak you out. When it gets wobbly just try to remember that the kayak was designed for this. It will get a little squirrely but you’ll be fine,’’ he admits.
He goes on to say “If you want to build up your trust factor, take the kayak and get in on some calm water. This can serve as a practice run. Start wiggling your hips so the boat starts bouncing from side to side, just like when you’re going to cast. Feel how the boat reacts to the motion. That should help build your confidence in the boat’s ability to stay upright. Remember to just flow with the boat. And when you decide to take a standing cast, and if you have a wide enough fishing kayak to do so, the same principle applies. Practice your standing balance and learn to move with the kayak before you try it when having all your gear onboard too.”
As for landing a fish, Sigler says this is the tricky part. “The best practice is to get the fish close to the kayak and then place your rod in the hand opposite of the side the fish is on. Use the rod hand to pull the fish toward the kayak, while also helping to balance the kayak while you land the fish. It’ll feel awkward at first, but will get better with practice.”
If you’re still nervous about standing in a kayak while fishing, there’s one company who make a set of clamp-on outrigger-type pontoons that add stability.
Even more effective is Freedom Kayak company’s Hawk model where the stern splits open by pulling a cord thereby adding substantial stability.
Some months ago, in an issue of On the Water Magazine, I recall reading where a saltwater angler fishing from a saltwater-type kayak managed to catch a sizable striper that pulled him around for about an hour until it tired and he could eventually land it.
Today’s kayaks come in several forms and lengths and some are offered with paddles to propel them instead of paddling. The latter gives more versatility when fishing, but because of the fins underneath the kayak, they can’t quite reach the very shallowest of water.
All in all, kayak fishing is a relaxing way to fish large or small bodies of water. Just don’t forget to wear a life jacket, at least one of the suspender type models that are less cumbersome.
Many homeowners in the suburbs of the Lehigh Valley, even in the city of Allentown, are reporting seeing white-tailed deer fawns feeding on their ornamental bushes and trees in their yards. They’ve become acclimated to living in populated areas since warehouses and housing developments have been driving them out of their normal woodlands. And to their benefit, they won’t be hunted here and will only meet their fate when hit by a vehicle as they cross heavily traveled roadways.
Since most fawns are born during May and June in northern environments, fawns born later than this are at a distinct disadvantage because they will not have adequate time to grow and develop before winter arrives again. Fawns in the South, however, are born over a much wider time frame since they aren’t as accountable to Old Man Winter, according to Kip Adams of the National Deer Association (NDA), a conservation group.
“The arrival of fawns is cued to align with the flush of spring vegetation because “green-up” provides does with the high-quality vegetation necessary for the final trimester of gestation and for the demands of lactation. Green-up also provides the low-growing vegetation that helps conceal fawns from predators,” said Adams. Healthy fawns say NDA, average 4 to 8 pounds at birth, and they will double that weight in approximately 2 weeks — a period during which they survive entirely on their mothers’ milk. However, by 2 weeks of age rumination begins in their stomach, and they begin to supplement their milk diet with forage. They will triple their birth weight within a month of age. And this change to greenery is being advocated for human diets as we should be following suit by eating more greens and vegetables.
NDA goes on to explain that weaning is not an instant switch but a gradual process in which the fawn consumes less milk over time while eating more green forage. Fawns can be completely weaned and survive without milk by 10 weeks of age (2? months), but does often wean them at 12 to 16 weeks (3 to 4 months). It’s not uncommon for hunters to see a May or June born fawn still nursing, or attempting to, in October (20-plus weeks). These fawns do not need the small amount of milk they receive at this time of year, if they get any, and it's believed it’s simply a bonding exercise for the fawn and its mother.
While we’re on this topic, did you know newborn fawns lack the ability to urinate or defecate? While nursing, the doe will lick their rectal and genital regions to stimulate them to release their wastes. The doe will then consume the urine and feces so their odors do not attract predators. Now that’s a responsible mother! The doe will continue this behavior for at least 2 to 3 weeks. A newborn’s inability to expel these wastes, coupled with the mother’s protective behavior of consuming them, undoubtedly saves countless fawns from predation.
Whitetail fawns are hiders rather than followers like moose calves or climbers like black bear cubs. Their spotted reddish-brown coat, as you may know, is designed to blend flawlessly into a range of forested and open environments. Even as newborns, fawns will nurse and then move away from the doe to bed, that’s typically when good meaning folks think the fawn was abandoned. This behavior removes the doe’s scent from the fawn’s bedding site and is an anti-predation strategy. Twin fawns will also hide separately for their first three to six weeks to reduce the likelihood a predator will find both of them.
All of this information underscores the importance of quality habitat and diverse cover types. An abundance and diversity of natural plants in the understory ensures adequate milk and quality forage for fawns, as well as excellent cover to hide them from predators. All of this improves fawn survival, the health of the population, and, ultimately, the quality of your hunting experiences.
For all birders who maintain bird feeders, the Pennsylvania Game Commission requests you stop feeding the birds for now. And here’s why.
According to wildlife experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine and officials from the PGC, there are reports of songbirds becoming sick and dying due to a health condition.
Most recently, the PGC has recently received multiple reports from Chester County of nestling and fledging songbirds who have developed ocular or neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers.
Reports have also been received from 27 other counties that include Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill and York. Nationally, cases have been reported in TN, KY, VA, WV, MD, DE, IN, OH and FL.
So far, 12 species have been affected. They are: Blue Jay, European Starling, Common Grackle, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee and Carolina Wren.
Until this songbird mortality event it resolved, the PGC is asking folks to please stop feeding the birds because congregating birds could potentially transmit the disease.
As of July 1, 2021, there have been reports from public observations of both adult and young birds exhibiting signs of the condition. The most common clinical symptoms include discharge and/or crusting around the eyes, eye lesions, and/or neurologic signs such as falling over or head tremors.
Experts are encouraging the public to follow five precautionary measures until more is known:
*Cease feeding birds and providing water in bird baths to prevent the spread of this disease to other birds and wildlife.
*Clean feeders and bird baths with 10 percent bleach solution.
*Avoid handing dead or injured birds and wear disposable gloves if it’s necessary to handle or move a bird.
*Keep pets away from sick or dead birds.
*To dispose of dead birds, place them in sealable plastic bag and discard it with your household trash.
The game commission asks to report any occurrences of these sick birds online at https://bit.ly/3htNiaJ.
JUNIOR GAME WARDEN CAMP OFFERED
The PGC’s Southeast Region will be hosting a Junior Game Warden Camp on July 30, 2021 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center located at 100 Museum Road, in Stevens, Pa. (Lancaster County).
This one-day camp is offered to youths ages 11-15 and is a structured, fun-filled day learning about the career of a Pennsylvania Game Warden.
Participants will learn about wildlife crime forensics, methods wardens use to catch poachers, how to solve wildlife related crimes, wildlife capturing techniques, handling wildlife nuisance complaints, wildlife research, woodland tracking and outdoor survivor skills in addition to some light physical fitness.
Juniors will take home a JGWC t-shirt, JGWC patch, water bottle, backpack and survival kit. Bottled water and bag lunch will be provided.
Registration is limited to 30 campers so call Middle Creek Wildlife Center (717-733-1512) for details.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.