From Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Uthica, NY, comes this interesting study on bird migrations that are going on right now.
Using cloud computing and data from 143 weather radar stations across the continental United States, Cornell researchers can now estimate how many birds migrate through the U.S. and the toll that winter and these nocturnal journeys take. Their findings are published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
"We've discovered that each autumn, an average of 4 billion birds move south from Canada into the U.S. At the same time, another 4.7 billion birds leave the U.S. over the southern border, heading to the tropics," notes lead author Adriaan Dokter, an Edward W. Rose postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell Lab. "In the spring, 3.5 billion birds cross back into the U.S. from points south, and 2.6 billion birds return to Canada across the northern U.S. border."
In other words, fewer birds return to their breeding grounds after going through fall migration and spending months on their wintering grounds. But the researchers were surprised to find that the migrants arriving across the U.S. southern border had an average return rate of 76 percent during the 5 years of the study (2013 to 2017) and the birds wintering in the U.S. had only an average return rate of 64 percent.
"Contrary to popular thought, birds wintering in the tropics survive the winter better than birds wintering in the U.S.," says Andrew Farnsworth, co-author of the study and leader of the Cornell Lab's aeroecology program. "That's despite the fact that tropical wintering birds migrate three to four times farther than the birds staying in the U.S."
To reach these numbers, the researchers developed complicated algorithms to measure differences in biomass picked up by weather radar—in this case, the total mass of organisms in a given area, minus insects and weather. Migrants crossing the northern border—such as many sparrows, American Robins, and Dark-eyed Juncos—have shorter migrations from breeding grounds in Canada to wintering grounds in the U.S.
Measurements from the southern border captured data on migrants that breed in the U.S. and spend their winters in places such as Central or South America, such as most warblers, orioles, and tanagers. One explanation for the higher mortality among birds wintering in the U.S. may be the number of hazards they face.
"All birds need suitable habitats with enough resources to get them through the winter," notes Ken Rosenberg, co-author and conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab. "Birds wintering in the U.S. may have more habitat disturbances and more buildings to crash into, and they might not be adapted for that."
Another reason for the disparity in migration return rates between short and long-distance migrants may have to do with breeding strategy. Birds wintering in the U.S. have high reproduction rates to offset higher mortality. Tropical wintering species have fewer offspring, but more adults survive through the winter and reproduce the following spring, despite their longer migrations. But it's a strategy that may backfire without conservation efforts in the tropics.
"Longer distance migrants seem to be gambling on having high survival in the tropics, and they're therefore more sensitive to what happens to their wintering grounds," says Dokter. "Even a small decrease in survival due to changes in their tropical habitats might cause a precipitous decline."
Putting your boat away for the winter soon? The Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) says recreational boat owners need to take special precautions with storage of E10 (10 percent ethanol) gas, and review their insurance policy to make sure the boat is properly covered. Ethanol fuel can cause problems over the winter, and boats stored inside heated storage facilities may need to consider “ice and freeze coverage” for unexpected power outages. Here are two tips for helping to ensure your boat comes out of hibernation next spring ready to go:
1. Prepare for ethanol: Unless you use ethanol-free fuels, your boat’s gas contains a mixture of up to 10 percent ethanol. Mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard, this fuel could “phase separate” over long winter storage periods and harm boat engines and fuel systems. If you have a portable gas tank on your boat, try to use as much gas as possible before you put the boat away at the end of the season. Any remaining that’s left in the portable tank (unmixed) may be put in your vehicle. Your county's household hazardous waste-collection site may also accept small amounts of gas.
If your boat has a built-in gas tank that cannot be emptied, add a fuel stabilizer and fill the tank, leaving a just a little room for expansion. This will greatly reduce the amount of moisture-laden air that can enter through the tank’s vent during seasonal temperature changes and could condense inside tank walls, potentially leading to phase separation. To view a video on ethanol, go to https://youtu.be/9Z6IoogVdRQ.
2. Consider ice and freeze boat insurance coverage: While the ability to store a boat inside a heated building over the long, cold winter is wonderful, consider what would happen if a snowstorm knocked out power and the source of heat died. Ice forming inside nonwinterized engine blocks can lead to big repair bills. This could also be an issue for do-it-yourselfers who fail to winterize properly.
For boaters who live in northern states, protecting yourself with ice and freeze coverage may be a smart option. It’s usually not very expensive – BoatUS Marine Insurance offers it for as little as $25 per engine – but understand that most insurers will not offer the coverage once temperatures get cold, usually by the end of October, so check with your provider now. The boat insurance experts at BoatUS Marine Insurance can be reached at (800) 283-2883.
According to The Fishing Wire service, the whitewater release that occurred on Labor Day weekend on the Salmon River(Oswego County) NY, is the trigger for large numbers of spawning Chinook and Coho salmon to enter the river. Each fall, the salmon run draws thousands of anglers to the river from across the northeast.
Salmon numbers typically increase through the month of September. The run usually peaks in mid-October when most of the spawning occurs. Although Chinook and Coho salmon die shortly after spawning, large numbers of steelhead enter the river later in the fall to provide exciting angling opportunities.
Pacific salmon can be caught on egg sacks, flies and other traditional salmon fishing techniques. Anglers are reminded that snagging, lining, and lifting are not allowed and anglers doing so will be ticketed. The desire for ethical angling practices and increased enforcement of existing regulations was a common theme during public meetings leading up to the development of the Salmon River Fisheries Management Plan.
PETA WANTS BOY SCOUTS TO STOP EARNING FISHING MERIT BADGES
PETA sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America calling on the organization to replace its fishing and fly-fishing badges with modern and humane ones that award scouts for animal-friendly survival skills, such as edible-plant identification and "trash fishing" (removing garbage from waterways).
"Fishing badges send impressionable young scouts the dangerous message that tormenting and killing sensitive sea animals will earn them a proverbial notch in their belts," says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. "This Fish Amnesty Day, PETA is calling on the Boy Scouts to award its members for eco- and animal-friendly accomplishments that make the planet a safer and cleaner place for everyone." PETA's motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to abuse in any way."
PENNSYLVANIA HB 2227 ALLOWS GUN CONFISCATION
According to the NRA, Pennsylvania House of Representatives will be coming back from their summer break and it’s possible that House Bill 2227 may be up for a vote.
HB 2227 would allow the seizure of firearms with little or no access to due process. Please contact your state Representative and strongly urge their opposition to HB 2227. Click the “Take Action” button below to contact your state Representative.
House Bill 2227 creates so-called “extreme risk protection orders” whereby a hearing would be held, firearms would be seized, and constitutional rights suspended with little to no due process.
Under House Bill 2227, a law-abiding gun owner could lose their right to own or possess a firearm and then have the burden placed on them to prove the false nature of the petition in order to have their firearms returned. This legislation does nothing to improve public safety, and allows for an extremely broad definition of who can petition to remove someone's Second Amendment rights. Again, please contact your state Representative and strongly urge them to OPPOSE HB 2227.
With the statewide archery deer hunting season in full swing, it brings up the possibility of bowhunters falling from their tree stands. In fact, September is Tree Stand Safety month as designated by the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association who say most archery deer hunting is done from a tree stand.
Interestingly, a study of Vermont and North Carolina bowhunters revealed the following:
*74 percent of tree stand accidents occurred while climbing up or down or when installing/removing a stand.
*7 percent of tree stand hunters surveyed had an accident in the last 10 years.
*73 percent said poor judgment caused their fall.
*80 percent said safety was a concern, but actually believed that a fall wouldn’t happen to them.
*Types of stands used were, self climbing (43 percent); fixed-position (34 percent); ladder (18 percent).
*58 percent of hunters who fell were not wearing a fall-arrest system (FAS).
*34 percent of hunters surveyed now wear a FAS because of an accident.
*39 percent of accidents occurred at less than 10 feet.
*21 percent of the accidents were related to structural failure.
While I’m fortunate I haven’t as yet fallen, I did slip down a tree some years ago. I slid down about six feet after my Loggy Bayou climbing stand didn’t grip, and slipped. Lucky for me, I was only four feet from the ground when this happened. Eventually, the Loggy climbing stands were deemed unsafe and were taken off the market.
Other interesting facts, collected by Travis Lau, Pennsylvania Game Commission public information officer, list that hunters fell from a mean height of 17 feet. Additionally, older hunters were more likely to fall than younger hunters with the average age of fall victims being 47.5, and this at nearly six falls per 100,000 hunters ages 50-59 who endured the highest fall rate.
In October 2016, Dana Grove, of Waynesboro, was the third hunter admitted to York Hospital in one day after falling from a tree stand. Grove, Lau describes, was wearing a harness but had not yet secured it to the tree. He crashed 20 feet to the ground when he stepped onto the platform of a hang-on stand as the strap holding it to the tree broke. He suffered a broken back that left him temporarily paralyzed from the waist down that took him a year to recover.
It was also learned that in Pennsylvania, 37 falls were due to the hunter slipping, misstepping or losing balance. Sixteen falls occurred when the hunter fell asleep, and 10 falls after the hunter fainted (these numbers don’t differentiate between firearms versus archery deer hunting seasons).
Bowhunters-Ed Association believes there is no valid reason to hunt from a tree stand that is 20 feet or more in height. They contend that as the height of a tree stand increases, the size of the kill zone decreases because of the steeper shot angle. And they can’t emphasize enough the importance of wearing a FAS. In fact, the state of Mississippi has made wearing a FAS mandatory for hunters who hunt from a tree stand in their state, a subject debated by the PGC but instead, launched an educational campaign.
Lau pointed out that you don’t need to fall far to hurt yourself, as Roger Long of New Columbia, Pa., found out.
While climbing down from a ladder stand on SGL #252 in Lycoming County in Oct. 2016, Long slipped just four feet off the ground and landed awkwardly on a log, shattering his ankle. He had to crawl out of the woods and it took him six months to recover. Subsequently, Long said he’s been more careful to pay attention to what’s on the ground beneath his stands and move objects like rocks and logs.
It was also noted that alcohol and drugs may have played a role in some falls.
To prevent these falls and fatalities, hunters merely need to adhere to common sense rules when hunting from a tree stand, and wear a FAS.
Ruger firearms has announced the passing of William B. Ruger, Jr., former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Ruger. Mr. Ruger, who was the second CEO of the Company and the son of the Company's founder, passed away this past weekend.
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Bill, who was integral to the foundation and early success of this company," said Chris Killoy, President and CEO of Ruger. "Bill's 42 years of loyal service to the Company has had a lasting impact that is still felt today. We will sincerely miss him and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Bill joined Ruger in 1964 and worked in a variety of manufacturing and engineering positions within the Company. In 1970, he became a member of the Company's Board of Directors. The following year, he was named Vice President of Manufacturing of the Southport Firearms Division. Just a few years later Bill was promoted to Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and, in 1991, was named President of the Company. He became Vice Chairman of the Board and Senior Executive Officer in 1995, and reassumed the duties of President and Chief Operating Officer in 1998. He became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer upon William B. Ruger, Sr.'s retirement in 2000. Bill officially retired from the Company in February of 2006.
Mr. Ruger was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1939. He graduated from Harvard College in 1961 where he studied engineering and applied physics. Before joining Ruger, Bill worked for the Kel Corporation of Belmont, Massachusetts as an electronics engineer.
Bill was a member of the Executive Committee of the Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute and various other trade associations, a trustee of St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and a trustee of the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association of Cody, Wyoming.
If you hanker for some fall trout fishing action, prepare to make the trip to New Jersey as their fall stocking kicks off. And if you’re ever fall fished there before, you know they stock some hefty trout.
Fall trout-stocking has become of the most popular stocking programs offered by New Jersey Fish and Wildlife, particularly since 2006 when the Division began stocking only larger two-year old trout. Anglers enjoy the additional fish provided by the Division as well as the opportunity to fish the waters of New Jersey during one of the most beautiful times of year. The big fish, cool water, great weather and spectacular scenery combined to make the fall season what many consider to be New Jersey’s premium trout fishing season.
Fall stocking begins Tuesday, October 9 in 2018 and concludes on Wednesday, October 17. All trout are raised at the division's Pequest Trout Hatchery. Any trout not caught during the fall will also be available all winter long for anglers to enjoy. Many are even caught the following spring.
Waters stocked during the first week of fall stocking are the 16 large streams and rivers in northern and coastal areas, such as the Big Flatbook, Pequest River, South Branch Raritan River, Musconetcong River, and the Manasquan and Toms Rivers. During the second week, 21 ponds and lakes in the central and southern portions of the state are stocked. All fall-stocked waters may be fished as soon as they are stocked (no "closed waters" during fall stocking).
The complete list of fall-stocked waters and the stocking schedule is available atwww.njfishandwildlife.com/flstk.htm or through the Trout Stocking Hotline 609-633-6765. If you need help finding one of these trout-stocked waters, refer to the list of fishing access locations linked below for directions.
As for local fall trout stocking, and in Lehigh County, the Little Lehigh will receive a stocking on 10-16-18. In Berks, Scotts Run Lake will get stocked on 10-17-18 while Tulpehocken Creek gets theirs on 10-15-18.
There are no planned fall trout stockings for Northampton County.
A sound of late summer customarily starts at dusk and continues through the night hours. And the sound emanates from a source not often seen unless flushed from a hiding place in flower beds, high grasses, under rocks or under trash cans.
What we speak of are crickets. The little black (or brown) crawlers that some anglers use as bait when fishing for bass. Others enjoy hearing their constant chirping when their home windows are open at night. Others wished they’d go away as their constant chirping irritates them and prevents them from sleeping.
Did you know crickets are distantly related to grasshoppers, another good bass fishing bait? And scientists have identified more than 900 species of them. They can be found from lower Alaska to the end of South America.
In some cultures, crickets are a sign of good luck, folklore and literature. Probably the most famous fictional cricket is Jiminy Cricket, featured in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio.
Crickets are often prey for birds to bears. And pet owners feed them to their lizards and spiders. Then there’s folks in Southeast Asia who deep fry them and eat them as a snack food.
Crickets are commonly attracted to properties for food, shelter and light. The latter, scientists say, is that nighttime light is a big attractant. Outdoor lights or bright lights visible through windows will likely attract them. This is probably why the one we had in front of our kitchen window, where we customarily have a ceiling light on, has been chirping. And they are wary. Make a noise they can hear and they’ll stop chirping. Get close to their hiding place and that will stop them. I suspected ours was hiding in a bunch of marigolds beneath the window.
And in case you didn’t remember from your high school biology classes, crickets chirp to announce their intentions of mating. Others chirp to celebrate after mating.
To make their chirping sound, males scrape their wings together in a method called stridulation. As the two rub together, comb-like serrations on the wings generate the chirp. It’s a sound that is magnified by another part of the wing. And crickets will chirp at a greater pace depending on the temperature.
Like some insects, crickets are not picky eaters. They’ll eat plant and animal matter and will act as scavengers eating decaying animals (like turkey vultures) and rotting vegetation. When they get desperate, they’ll eat other crickets, targeting injured or weakened ones.
Female cricket’s lay their eggs in loose soil found in garden beds and flowerbeds. After overwintering as eggs, the eggs hatch in spring and as nymphs, they begin eating and start to grow and molt several times until they reach adulthood, say scientists. With their final juvenile molt, crickets begin growing their wings, a stage that signifies their sexual maturity. Throughout spring and summer, several generations will have developed. After that, most crickets will live from spring through fall and die as temperatures cool. And the ones that manage to sneak into your home or garage, will die after a short time.
Until then, try to enjoy the last sounds of summer as snow season isn’t far off. A time when you would probably rather listen to crickets chirping, instead of shoveling snow.
The most anticipated archery deer hunting season kicks off this Saturday in Wildlife Management Areas 2B, 5C and 5D. The statewide archery deer season begins two weeks later on Sept. 29. Coincidentally, the early archery bear season also opens Sept. 15 in the same trio of WMUs.
But the primary pursuit is deer. And we do have an abundance of them. In fact, too many in certain areas.
Most recently about a dozen Salisbury Township residents voiced their concern at a commissioners’ meeting citing the deer population in their area has escalated to the tune of herds of deer numbering in the hundreds that are causing horticultural damage, their droppings are becoming a health hazard, and they’re transmitting ticks that can cause Lyme disease. One resident also pointed out the deer have become a major road hazard by colliding with vehicles primarily at 24th Street and Lehigh Parkway North. The resident asked Salisbury commissioners to contact the City of Allentown so they could implement a deer population control plan because most of the deer come from Allentown’s Lehigh Parkway area. The commissioners indicated they would draft a letter to the city to have them explore having the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Division of Wildlife Services implement a population control program that would utilize a controlled sniper program.
That area does have an abundance of deer, and in fact on Friday afternoon, driving north on Oxford Drive where it turns into S. 24th Street, I noticed two late born fawns with spots feasting on the lawn of a large home on the west side of the highway.
On a recent visit to the City of Allentown’s recycling facility on Oxford where it meets Fish Hatchery Road, one worker there showed me a phone photo he took of a beautiful 8-point buck in velvet, standing atop one of the huge mulch piles the city maintains there. He said he sees it walking around the facility where residents take their grass, shrubbery and tree clippings to be recycled.
Other large deer herds inhabit the former Trojan Powder Company’s’ vast property holdings and the Tercha Farm on old Route 22 outside of Fogelsville.
In July, my wife was checking our security camera system and said “you’re not going to believe this.” Our cameras recorded a large doe standing on our west end Allentown front lawn at 3 a.m. In checking the back yard cameras, it came from the alley behind my house and walked between my neighbors home and mine. Then it disappeared.
My late grandfather, who lived in Ironton, would go to Promised Land in the Poconos every year to hunt deer. But in all his years of hunting there, he never managed to bring one home. Now, his former Ironton property now has a large number of deer living in the small woods to the rear of his former home. He would be amazed.
These areas would be ideal for archery hunting as the residents would not hear it happening if sharpshooters were employed. I recall talking to an upper Bucks County landowner who would only allow bowhunters on her property because she didn’t have to hear it happening. Same goes for Salisbury residents who some would not take well to hearing gun shots near their homes.
This all goes to show how deer have managed to survive and multiply after getting pushed out from suburban areas and woodlands that are now warehouses and housing developments where they once lived.
We’ve also noticed an unusual number of late born fawns, with spots, for this time of year. Some are feeding in fields while others were road killed. Because of this, Bob Danenhower, of Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield, is concerned that bowhunters may shoot their mother’s thereby depriving the fawns of the nourishing milk they need to survive.
On a side note, if you’re a bowhunter looking for truly fresh deer scent, Bob’s Taxidermy will once again be handling Yurine-Luck doe-in-heat and buck scent. Call 610-398-7609 to insure it’s in stock.
FREE FISHING & FUN IN THE PARKWAY
Saturday, Sept. 22 from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, the Allentown Parks and Recreation Dept., in concert with Lehigh County F&G Protective Association and Guardian Insurance, will host a free fishing event in Lehigh Parkway. The event will feature fishing, casting instructions for beginners, arts, crafts, demonstrations plus a food truck with food and refreshments. To register go to www.lvcil.org.fishing.
f you’re an avid bird watcher, you may be seeing an influx of Ruby Throated hummingbirds at your feeders provided you have an appropriate feeder or flowers for them to feed from. This influx is because these tiny, colorful, tiny and quick birds have begun their fall migration back to southern Mexico and northern Panama.
As they migrate southward, they refuel their bodies in the early morning as they travel by midday and forage again in the late afternoon in an effort to maintain their body weight.
The Hummingbird site says that August brings lots of activity with their peak numbers showing up in early September. Most are Ruby Throats with an occasional Rufous showing up in the mix.
On their way southward, the Ruby’s gather in Florida, Louisiana and along the South Texas coast in September in preparation for their final push to the south, either over the Gulf of Mexico or via an overland route through Mexico.
So to enjoy these beauties, put out an inexpensive hummingbird feeder in your backyard. And for even more thrills, put one on your windowsill for a close-up view, of the only bird in the world that can fly backyards.
Since hummers have to feed between 5-8 times every hour, you can stock your feeder with a commercial hummingbird feeder mix, or make your own. To do so, it’s recommended mixing four parts of water to one part of sugar. You may choose to boil the water first to better dissolve the sugar, which should be regular table sugar (sucrose) as they seem to like this best. And it’s the most digestible say the experts. Regular tap water is fine but if yours is hard water, this gives the birds extra electrolytes. If it’s soft, add a tiny pinch of salt to each quart of nectar but don’t overdo it or the birds won’t drink it. It’s also cautioned not use any red dye, honey, brown sugar or sugar substitutes as they could be harmful. And as a last reminder, keep your commercial feeders clean as dirty ones could spread disease. It’s recommended to soak the feeder in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water, and brush away any grime on or in the feeder.
PA FISH & BOAT COMMISSION (PF&BC) GIVEAWAYS
The PF&BC has partnered with The Rest of PA, VisitErie and Bass Pro Shops in Harrisburg in sponsoring two fall fishing getaways.
First prize is a weekend get-away package from Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau, Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau and Visit Potter-Tioga Visitors Bureau. The package includes accommodations for up to four people including lodging, meals and exposure to fishing.
Second-place prize is an Ascend 10T Sit-On-Top fishing kayak donated by Bass Pro Shops.
The public can enter this giveaway by visiting www.GoneFishingPA.com from now until November 26, or by entering in person at the PF&BC table at Penn State Football’s Fan Festival outside Beaver Stadium, University Park, during all 2018 home Penn State football games.
Winners will be notified after December 19. A date, time and location for the winner to pick up the kayak will be determined in the weeks after the winner is notified. Other prizes will be mailed after they’ve been awarded. No purchase is required and only one entry per qualifying adult will be accepted.
HUNTING FILM TOUR COMING TO ARTSQUEST
Celebrate the spirit of the hunt with the only area screening of the acclaimed Hunting Film Tour (HFT) on Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m., at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem. Tickets for the event, a fundraiser for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society and the nonprofit ArtsQuest, are $15 in advance at www.steelstacks.org and 610-332-3378, and $20 at the door.
The Hunting Film Tour is not only a showcase of short documentary films focusing on the world of hunting culture, but an incredible lineup of conservation-minded and fair chase films that capture the essence of the experience. The tour provides a home for unique films and filmmakers that capture the stories, landscapes and pursuits that make hunting a generational passion. From big game archery and rifle hunts, to exotic international quests and wing shooting, the 2018 tour features several films, each highlighting a different mission. The complete list of films and trailers will be available at www.huntingfilmtour.com in early August.
This special evening also includes screenings of the Ruffed Grouse Society’s “Project Upland,” a unique bird hunting initiative that captures the passions and traditions of the grouse woods to inspire a new generation of upland hunters. This multi-video production, featuring several short films, celebrates those experiences sportsmen treasure in the woods – stories and cherished memories that are essential to engage the next generation of grouse hunters and conservationists.
Guest are invited to arrive starting at 6:30 p.m. for Happy Hour to talk with fellow sportsmen, check out the vendors and enjoy a beverage or bite to eat from the ArtsQuest Center’s Mike & Ike Bistro (not included with ticket price). During intermission there will be an auction and raffle, with the chance to win hunting gear, trips and more!
Proceeds from the Hunting Film Tour benefit the Ruffed Grouse Society’s conservation work in the region, as well as ArtsQuest’s Step Outdoors Festival, a two-day, free event in June that encourages families and children to explore their outdoor pursuits.
For more information on the HFT event at SteelStacks, visit www.steelstacks.org.
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.