Conserving nature not a luxury — it’s a necessity!

Green Crowned Hummingbird

Conserving nature not a luxury — it’s a necessity!

I realize not everyone may enjoy getting outdoors and visiting nature areas as much as I do. As a wildlife specialist with the local Soil Water and Conservation District, I have the fortunate opportunity to meet with landowners and ag producers on their property to talk about some of the many conservation options available to help them meet their land stewardship objectives. It’s certainly rewarding, professionally and personally, to be able to see some of the results that have come about as a result of all of our efforts.

Farmers and urbanites play an important role in taking the best possible care of our natural resources, even more so than the conservation agencies. Without their voluntary participation in the programs and commitment to land and water, we would not be able to achieve our goals. It is this partnership between people of all walks of life that allows us to be able to minimize sediment losses, restore and protect the water quality of our streams and Lake Erie, and add vital wildlife habitat.

Speaking of which, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is always entertaining ideas of how it can improve and adapt to the needs of folks who enjoy the great outdoors, whether you’re a hunter, fisherman, boater, hiker, birdwatcher or simply on the outlook for the next photo op. With its focus on providing more access and additional outdoor opportunities, the DOW has a short and easy online survey you can take. Just go to the DOW home page, click on the “Stay Informed” link, and at the top of the page is the survey.

An inquiry came into our office a couple of months ago pertaining to hummingbirds, specifically what might have delayed the normal April sightings. In posing this to one of my wildlife counterparts, the response was that it could have been attributed to the individual’s location and the colder, north winds blowing off the lake. This seemed to have also prolonged the arrival of some of the warblers.

Though a few other species may make an infrequent visit to your flower garden or feeder, the feathered friend that is native and most often seen in our area is the ruby-throated hummingbird. Another species you may catch a glimpse of is the rufous hummingbird, which is said to have the longest migration of all of them, about 3,000 miles as it travels from its nesting grounds in Alaska and parts of Canada to its winter vacation in Mexico.

Laura Kearns, a wildlife biologist with the DOW, is currently taking a quick, informal survey on Ohio’s hummingbirds for this summer to see what their status might be. If you happen to feed hummingbirds — or know someone who does — and observe their appearances on a regular basis, Laura would welcome your feedback. The information she is interested in is your location (county) and whether or not you may have observed male hummingbirds frequently at your feeder this summer. You can easily submit your observations to laura.kearns@dnr.state.oh.us.

If you’re like me, sometimes in your “walkabout” across the field, along a fencerow or back in the woods, you may happen onto one of wildlife’s young. An initial reaction is that it may be an orphan and needs our assistance, not realizing the parent may be just a hop or jump away. We all have good intentions, but just keep in mind that a wild animal’s best chance for survival is to leave it in its natural environment. There are also laws that may restrict our interference so if in doubt, contact a wildlife rehabilitator or a wildlife officer.

There is probably more to see and fun that can be had than we have time to do it all in. And in between, we still have a few land management tasks that have to be initiated or completed, be it out on the farm, in town or the neighborhood we live in. Sediment and nutrient runoff continue to pose threats to our streams, rivers and Lake Erie, our fishing and drinking natural resources. Like coach John Wooden said, “Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Let’s stay the course with regard to the conservation commitment!

Originally posted in the Sandusky Register, by Tim White, wildlife specialist with the Erie Soil and Water Conservation District, on 7/23/2017

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