With the heat and humidity we’re experiencing, it’s advisable to keep our bodies well hydrated. The same goes for our fine feathered friends. They seek out water to drink and bathe in and maintaining a clean bird bath is key to attracting birds, year round.
If you have a bird bath, no matter how simple, inexpensive or improvised, keeping the bird bath clean with fresh water is important. As a youngster growing up in West Catasauqua, my summer job was to dump out the water from our ceramic bird bath then scrubbing it clean with a brush then adding fresh water. I had to do this twice a week and more if debris or bird droppings were in it.
If you have a bird bath, you may want to add some pizzazz to it with some action and sound of moving water. According to the Birding Wire, this can be done with a small fountain, waterfall, dripper, mister – or all of these options. Not only will one or more of these accessories create more lively action with the sight and sound of moving water, but they also make your bird bath, water basin, or water feature even more attractive to birds, especially birds that are making a migration stop or even looking for a winter layover.
It’s natural for birds to locate water sources by listening for the movement of water, says the Wire. That’s how they find water at springs, streams – and at bird baths. Therefore, it should be a natural to include moving water as part of a bird feeding station or flower garden. You don’t even need an electric connection to keep a motor running if you opt for a solar-operated fountain attachment or a funky “water wiggler.”
Your local birding or hardware store may have some options. But this kind of specialized equipment can be sent to your door by ordering it online from, for example, Duncraft, or other birding sites.
Here are a variety of options readily available that will have a functioning water feature operating to attract a greater variety of birds during the second half of August and thereafter.
First on the list is a miniature Rock Waterfall, which adds a natural-looking base and the trickle of running water to your yard. This is the exotic exception and one accessory listed that requires an electrical outlet and the safety precautions that come with that, but it’s sure to add much to your backyard habitat if you maintain one. Learn more at https://www.duncraft.com/Layered-Waterfall-Rock-Pump.
A Solar Fountain fits in almost any bird bath, water basin, or other water feature is also available from Duncraft. Learn more about this interesting mini-fountain at https://www.duncraft.com/Solar-Fountain-Pump-Kit.
Drippers and Misters don’t need a power source, but they do require a water source – usually just an outdoor hose is adequate to hook up a dripper, mister, or a combination of the two.
A two-in-one combination, the Drip-or-Mist attachment from Wild Birds Unlimited provides a level of versatility that can be adapted for hummingbirds that prefer mist, or dialed to a dripper with a variable drip rate for many other birds. Learn more about this versatile water feature at https://order.wbu.com/shop/bird-baths-&-houses/bird-baths-&-water/drip-or-mist
Duncraft offers a pure Dripper option, which you can see and review at https://www.duncraft.com/Ivy-Leaf-Pebble-Dipper and https://www.duncraft.com/Erva-Universal-Dripper.
There are also Water Wigglers. The Water Wiggler runs on two DD batteries that keeps water moving with a rippling action. Learn more at https://www.duncraft.com/Water-Wiggler. A lighted option is the Aurora Water Wiggler that features a dome that illuminates at dusk and cycles through six different colors – just for fun. Learn more at https://www.duncraft.com/Aurora-Water-Wiggler.
These can make your existing water feature more interesting for local birds, migrating birds, and eventually, wintering birds. All birds are attracted to water, especially moving water, so consider the importance of using the moving water accessories that you think will serve you and the birds best. In the least, set up a static bird bath that provides a clean water source. The birds will love you for it.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) is asking deer hunters to assist them in determining where the potential spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) exists by offering special Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits for eight Enhanced Surveillance Units (ESUs).
These special permits, says the PGC, that went on sale July 30, will allow hunters to take antlerless deer in the 2020-21 hunting seasons. It’s intended for hunters to use the tags to harvest deer, then submit the heads from those animals for CWD testing.
The PGC says CWD testing occurs statewide annually, but it’s especially critical in Enhanced Surveillance Units where CWD has been found.
According to the PGC, these surveillance units are small areas within larger Disease Management Areas. They surround the spot where a CWD positive wild or captive deer was found.
These CWD detections noteworthy in that they are at the leading edge of disease expansion, or at least 5 miles from any other past CWD detection.
With the help of hunters, the PGC intends to determine if those CWD positive deer were outliers, meaning the only sick one in their respective areas, or a clue to a bigger problem. The agency’s deer management goal is to limit CWD to no more than one percent of the adult deer in these units. By harvesting deer and submitting heads from those deer for testing, hunters can help determine where CWD exists and to what degree.
“The Game Commission has a CWD Response Plan,” said Christopher Rosenberry, chief of the agency’s game management division. “But hunters are the real key to making it work. The samples they provide from deer they harvest, especially in Enhanced Surveillance Units, help’s us identify where CWD exists on the landscape, at what prevalence, and what management actions we need to take to control it.”
The PGC will place deer-head collection bins in each unit. It will test all deer heads gathered with a valid harvest tag – at no cost to the hunter – and report back to those hunters with news of whether their deer tested positive for CWD or not. Locations of the deer-head collection bins can be found here: https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Pages/ChronicWastingDisease.aspx.
The Game Commission is aiming to collect at least 250 to 300 deer heads from each unit.
Within the eight DMAP areas associated with Enhanced Surveillance Units, the closest to Lehigh/Northampton counties are in DMAP Unit 3468 in Bern, Brecknock, Cumru, Heidelberg, Jefferson, Lower Heidelberg, Marion, North Heidelberg, Penn, South Heidelberg and Spring townships in Berks County; Brecknock, Clay, Earl, East Cocalico, East Earl, Elizabeth, Ephrata, Upper Leacock, Warwick, West Cocalico and West Earl townships in Lancaster County; and Heidelberg, Jackson, Millcreek, North Lebanon and South Lebanon townships in Lebanon County. It encompasses 346 square miles and has 4,430 permits available.
Maps showing the specific boundaries of each Enhanced Surveillance Unit can be found at: https://pagame.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id?084308c67d524d14ad90dcb2232b0c01 and here https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Pages/ChronicWastingDisease.aspx.
DMAP tags for the Enhanced Surveillance Units can be purchased at any license issuing agent. Hunters just need to identify the unit they want to hunt by number says the PGC.
“We know Pennsylvania deer hunters are passionate,” Rosenberry said, and these additional tags gives them even more opportunity to enjoy that pursuit and, just as importantly, be our first line of defense in managing Chronic Wasting Disease. We’re all in this together. Getting the needed samples is critical. The additional DMAP tags are one tool to help us to obtain these samples. But we need samples from all deer harvested in the Enhanced Surveillance Unit. Extending the hunting season is another possible action the agency may take if not enough samples are obtained. Our hunters are the first line of defense and we need their help,” he concludes.
In these dog days of summer, fishing normally slows down. But for those who are persistent and patient, there are fish to catch according to our tackle shop reporters.
Willie, from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, said Lehigh River angling action has slowed, but some anglers are picking up a few smallmouth bass, fallfish, rock bass and an occasional trout, mostly on live bait. Water is warm so the fish are lethargic opines, Willie. “The best bet is to fish by the falls where the water is a bit cooler and more oxygenated,” he advises. No Muskie action as yet. Since many people returned to work, there’s less fishing traffic, he surmises. However, the Little Lehigh is still producing a trout or two mainly from fast riffles and the deep, shaded pools. But anglers must fish hard for them.
Leaser Lake has been producing perch, bluegills, crappies, nice bass and some Muskie. Beltzville Lake is yielding some stripers for anglers trolling during evening and night hours. Anglers there are also picking up some bass and walleye. At Mauch Chunk Lake, bass, bluegills and some largemouth are looking for live bait, but the bite is sporadic.
Willie received good trout reports from Pocono creeks where the water is a bit colder.
Chris’s Bait & Tackle in Mertztown says Ontelaunee Reservoir’s largemouth bass bite remains decent mainly during early morning, late evening hours. Bass are falling for plastics, like Senko worms and lizards.
At Blue Marsh Lake, where there’s a weekly Tuesday bass fishing tournament, anglers are coming up short in fact last Tuesday one contestant came in third with only three bass. Two weeks ago Chris caught nine bass there in the morning and they were all small. However, the catfish bite there is excellent said Chris. Cats up to 23 pounds are being hooked. Big ones are eating trout that Chris sells.
Up at Leaser Lake, Muskie action remains good on live trout. One customer had a 47-inch, 23-pounder last week.
Bass fishing has been good at Leaser. One regular customer caught five largemouth all over four pounds last Wednesday morning. Bass there are preferring live bait, plastics like lizards, Senko’s and one customer used a “Hot Mouse” spinnerbait and took a bunch of bass before it got bit off.
Perch action has been exceptional at Leaser with many in the 2-2.5-pound category and that goes for crappies as well. Both species are hitting minnows and shiners. Another customer took nine bass on shiners, plastics and a “Rhythm Wave” swim bait.
One lady angler in a kayak with a rod out the back of the craft, hooked a 24-inch palomino trout at Leaser. Chris saw a photo of it and said he was surprised it survived since Leaser wasn’t stocked this year and only had a partial stocking last year. This was one of the very few trout caught at Leaser. Many anglers believe the muskies ate most of them.
Mike at Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Nazareth reported decent striper action at Beltzville Lake as well as in the Delaware River, albeit small ones. Flathead and channel catfish action is good in the Delaware as is quality smallmouth in the 16-18-inch class. “Net Rig” jigs are luring smallies to hook. Lake Minsi is quiet as only trout have been stocked there since it was drained and repaired. But anglers are seeing fish rising so they’re there, but the water is warm and will be even warmer this week as temps are forecasted to be high.
Related to trout fishing, the PA Fish Commission reminds anglers to take summer weather conditions into consideration when enjoying local waterways. In many cases during very hot and dry conditions, trout will seek out the closest source of cold water to provide thermal relief. This often results in many trout congregating at the mouths of cool-water tributaries or spring seeps. The Commission asks anglers to consider that while crowded and thermally stressed trout in a pool of water may look like an easy target, these fish are typically in poor condition and difficult to catch. Anglers should avoid fishing for trout during these conditions, as it can have lasting impacts on the population.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) is asking hunters and non-hunters alike to join their annual Pennsylvania Wild Turkey Sighting Survey that began July 1 and extends through the month of August.
According to the PGC, each summer, Pennsylvanians help track wild turkey populations by reporting their turkey sightings to the agency. And this year, they’ll have two months instead of one to make observations and report them.
Turkey sighting reports can be made through the Game Commission’s mobile app or on the agency’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov. On the website, click on “Turkey Sighting Survey” in the Quick Clicks section. The mobile app can be found by searching for “Pennsylvania Game Commission” in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, and selecting “Turkey Sighting Survey.”
Says the PGC, information submitted helps the agency analyze turkey reproduction. Participants are requested to record the number of wild turkeys they see, along with the general location, date, and contact information if agency biologists have any questions.
Mary Jo Casalena, PGC wild-turkey biologist says, “By reporting all turkeys seen during each sighting, whether gobblers, hens with broods or hens without broods, the data helps us determine total productivity, and allow us to compare long-term reproductive success.”
Casalena goes on to say, “The 2019 spring-turkey population was approximately 212,200, which was slightly below the three-year running average of 216,900. With last summer’s sighting survey showing average reproductive success (2.4 poults per hen), the statewide turkey population was stable coming into this year’s breeding season. At the Wildlife Management Unit level, reproductive success in 2019 improved in 10 of 23 WMUs compared to 2018. It was similar to 2018 in three WMUs, but declined to below average in 10 WMUs. Areas where reproduction declined were mainly northern and southeastern Pennsylvania, and within some southcentral WMUs.
Resident antlerless deer hunting licenses went on sale Monday, July 13, and for nonresidents, Monday, July 20.
Resident applicants need to make checks and money orders payable to “County Treasurer” for $6.90 for each license they seek. The fee for nonresidents is $26.90 per license.
A list of participating county treasurers and their addresses can be found within the 2020-21Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is provided to all license buyers and available to view online. However, the 2020-21 digest incorrectly lists the address for the Luzerne County treasurer. The correct address for sending antlerless deer license applications to the Luzerne County treasurer is 200 North River Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711.
In any WMU where antlerless licenses remain, resident and nonresident applicants may apply for a second license beginning Aug. 3, and a third license Aug. 17.
In most parts of the state, hunters are limited to purchasing a total of three antlerless licenses. However, in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, there is no limit to how many tags a hunter may acquire until the total allocation has been exhausted.
If licenses remain, over-the-counter sales are slated to begin Aug. 24 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, and Oct. 5 in all other WMUs, though over-the-counter sales could be affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
For the first time this year, participants in Pennsylvania’s mentored hunting program who are at least 7 years old can apply for their own antlerless deer licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits, which can be used to harvest antlerless deer on specific properties.
With three upcoming elk seasons (a September archery season, the November general elk season and a January season for antlerless elk), elk hunting hopefuls need to apply before July 31 to apply for a license.
The number of licenses available, that are awarded by lottery, has been increased – 26 will be awarded for the archery season (10 antlered, 16 antlerless), 104 for the general season (26 antlered, 78 antlerless) and 34 for the antlerless-only January season.
Elk license applications can be submitted online or at any license issuing agent. A separate application, costing $11.90, is needed for each season. Hunters wishing to apply for all three pay $35.70 to apply. In each drawing, season-specific bonus points are awarded to those who aren’t drawn.
If you’d like to get into kayak fishing, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what you might need to get started. Here are some tips from the folks at Yak Gear that you can use as a beginner kayak angler.
The major consideration when buying a kayak is do you want paddle or pedal driven? Pedal kayaks are propelled by pedaling with your feet and legs, as opposed to holding and using a paddle. Pedal drive kayaks tend to pricey but there’s nothing wrong with the paddle variety. In fact, they tend to be lightweight, easier to transport and practical to fish out of. If buying local, see if the retailer has a test program for both and see which you prefer.
Other important items to have while kayak fishing are a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and a signaling device (whistle). Not only are these items required to be on your kayak, but most importantly, they can save your life in the event of an emergency. While it may seem like a pain, there are many different brands and styles available to keep you both safe and comfortable while you’re out on the water.
Other kayak accessories for is to choose the right kayak anchor. Without an anchor, you have no way of “putting the brakes” on your kayak and current and wind move you off a hot fishing spot. For shallow water, the YakStick Mud Anchor is an excellent choice. When it comes to deeper water, the YakGear Grapnel, Bruce or Mushroom Anchors will do help you stay in one place when needed, depending on the speed of the current and the material at the bottom.
Rod holders are another necessity to kayak fishing. You can never have enough rod holders! There are many types but one good one is Yak Gear’s Railblaza Rod Holder II. It’s versatile and will hold just about every style of fishing rod. Yak Gear says it has an easy-to-open locking mechanism that will help ensure that your rod doesn’t come out unless intended to. It also turns 360 degrees, and attaching the rod holder to your kayak is easy with the variety of mounts and for most kayak surfaces.
When it comes to kayak fishing, staying organized is key. A crate is perfect not only for keeping all your belongings (tackle, anchors etc.) in order, but also for attaching rod holders, leashes and other gear. Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes, but a standard milk crate always holds everything you need.
Finally, leashes are essential for kayakers who want to attach valuable items like rods and paddles to keep them from falling out of the kayak.
Yak Gear offers kits that include most of the things you’ll need to get started with kayak fishing. For example, their YakGear Kayak Angler Kit in Crate offers a variety of styles of rod holders/mounts, leashes, a grapnel anchor, accessory pouch and Fish Grips.
Kayaks have come a long way. Many are remarkably stable, comfortable and even offer anglers the option to stand and fish. But paddle or pedal, the fundamental physics of propulsion will apply. You’ll be in the ring with Mother Nature, and she doesn’t like to compromise. If you aren’t familiar with paddling a kayak, turning or maintaining a position in wind or current, it’s a great idea to get some practice in before you decide to try kayak fishing or casting while moving on the water. Look for a kayak rental facility with hourly rental rates or find a friend with kayaks and get some paddle practice time in to learn the basics fast and grow accustomed to the nuances of the paddle stroke.
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.