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Naturally Speaking with Steve Lekwa

An insightful and informed view on wildlife and the environment from former Story County Conservation Director Steve Lekwa.

Feb 20

Mostly Unseen, Spring Activity Has Begun

Posted on February 20, 2018 at 11:20 AM by Erica Eaves

The thermometer topped the freezing point for the first time in more than a week this afternoon. Even a couple of days of thaw weather might melt off and dry area roads enough to risk washing the salt slush off the vehicles. An actual film of salt has formed around wet spots on my garage floor and out on the driveway where slush and ice chunks fall off the car and truck. It's a wonder that our rivers aren't as salty as the oceans with all the salt that's applied to roads when it snows. The salt prevents some accidents but dissolves cars almost as well as it does ice.

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Feb 12

A Tail of Two Birds

Posted on February 12, 2018 at 9:30 AM by Erica Eaves

Last week I wrote about birds that I thought I saw, but didn't. This week I get to share a tale of two birds that I actually saw. Both species are uncommon, but one has become far less common, while the other has become more so.  

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Feb 05

Seeing Is Believing – Or Is It?

Posted on February 5, 2018 at 10:06 AM by Melissa Johannes

     Well, I've done it again.  My brain has tricked me into seeing (at least briefly) something that wasn't really there.  Oh, something is usually there;  just not what I wished and thought it was.  Someone I was talking to on the phone this morning said she'd heard that someone else had just seen a snowy owl as she was leaving I-35 near Ames.  I wasn't far away and had only one short stop to make first.  Unlike most owls, snowy owls are active in daylight.  Even if it might have been actively hunting at mid morning, I thought that there was still a good chance it might be around the area where it had been seen.  Grassland that they prefer to hunt in is pretty limited, and interstate intersections are some of the largest patches of permanent grass left in our area.  Snowys often perch on the ground, and I saw a white spot along a field edge out in the distance.  That spot became a snowy owl until I got close enough to see that it was only a plastic shopping bag snagged on a weed.  I did the same thing several times on the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count back in mid December.  A snowy owl had been sighted nearby the evening before.  I still haven't seen a real snowy owl this winter even though many have been reported around the state.  It makes me wonder if any of those were plastic bag owls.

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