Got Nature? Blog

Posted on November 20th, 2017 in Got Nature for Kids, How To, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

Sandhill Cranes in WildHave you walked outside recently and heard a loud rattling bugle coming from the sky, and thought to yourself “what in the world is making that noise?” More than likely, you were hearing the calls of sandhill cranes. Often times you can hear the calls of sandhill cranes long before you see them, and sometimes you may never even see them. Sandhill cranes can fly at altitudes exceeding 1-mile high and their calls can be heard from more than 2 miles away.

Sandhill crane sightings are a common occurrence in Indiana from October through early-December and from February through March as the cranes migrate between their breeding grounds in Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, and Wisconsin and their wintering grounds in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.

When and where to view sandhill cranes in Indiana

Sandhill Cranes stopped at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during fall migration. Photo: Indiana DNR

Sandhill Cranes stopped at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during fall migration. Photo: Indiana DNR

While sandhill cranes can be viewed throughout the state, Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area in Medaryville, IN is one of the top spots in the eastern U.S. to view sandhill cranes. Jasper-Pulaski lies in the heart of the sandhill’s migratory path, and the birds congregate here in the thousands to tens-of-thousand during the fall and spring migration. Jasper-Pulaski serves as an important staging area for eastern sandhill cranes during migration, and the cranes stop here to rest and replenish their fat reserves to complete the migration.

Fall is the best time of year to view sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski, and more specifically crane numbers are the greatest from mid-November to early-December. The Indiana DNR has a website that provides information about the sandhill crane migration at Jasper-Pulaski. Managers at Jasper-Pulaski even track the number of cranes using the area weekly, throughout the fall migration, and post an estimated count to the website. On Nov. 7th, 4,630 sandhill cranes were counted at Jasper-Pulaski. You can view cranes from the observation deck located just to the west of the Jasper-Pulaski main office.

Other hot spots to view sandhill cranes during migration include Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area in northeast Indiana, Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in southwest Indiana, and Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Indiana.

Crane Capture

Purdue Wildlife Society members assisted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Researchers with sandhill crane capture and banding at Jasper-Pulaski in the fall of 2010. Photo: Purdue Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

GPS collars on sandhill cranes highlight importance of Jasper-Pulaski

Just how important is Jasper-Pulaski to sandhill cranes? Researchers with The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Minnesota attached Global Positioning System (GPS) collars to sandhill cranes to track their fall and spring migratory routes. A majority of the sandhill cranes, regardless of where spent the summer or winter, stopped at Jasper-Pulaski during the migration. Sandhill cranes spent 34% of the fall and spring migratory period at Jasper-Pulaski, which is almost twice as much time as any other single place on their migratory route. The map below shows the migratory paths taken by GPS-collared sandhill cranes during the fall (gold lines) and spring (blue lines).

Crane Map

The gold lines are migratory paths of individual GPS-collared sandhill cranes during the fall migration, whereas the blue lines are migratory paths during spring migration. Photo: Fronczak et al. 2017

Resources:
Sandhill Cranes Fall Migration – Indiana DNR
International Crane Foundation
Operation Migration

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Red maple tree, fall red leaves. Photo by: Lenny Farlee

Red maple tree with leaves turning red in fall. Photo by: Lenny Farlee

​The calendar flipping over to October is a reminder the annual Autumn leaf color display is on its way. The perennial question is “how will the color be this year?” Predicting the quality of the fall display requires weighing several factors that may vary over time and across the landscape. In general, Indiana started the growing season wet and is ending it dry. The good growing conditions early this year have produced abundant leaf area on many trees. As we have dried out late in the season, some trees are experiencing stress that may cause leaves to turn color and drop early, or to simply turn brown. Drought may also delay the color change by a week or more in some cases. Leaves that were attacked by insects or disease may also drop early or provide very little color. I noticed Japanese beetles seemed to be more active than normal this year, skeletonizing leaves on preferred plants like linden and Virginia creeper. Local weather patterns can also influence color intensity in a positive way. Sunny days and cool nights late in the summer and early fall can enhance the production of anthocyanin – a pigment produced in some trees that provides bright red, maroon and purple tones to the fall color palate.

Hop hornbeam tree with yellow fall leaves. Photo by: Lenny Farlee

Hop hornbeam tree with yellow fall leaves. Photo by: Lenny Farlee.

This brings us to another variable: different species of trees may produce different colors, timing, and duration of fall color. Some species like sassafras, sumac, black and sweet gum, and sugar and red maple are famous for bright fall color. Some species like elms, buckeye and walnut may simply turn brown or drop early with little color display. Different individual trees may also vary due to genetic differences, growing conditions and tree health. For example, some sugar maple located in open areas or on the edge of a woodlot, receiving lots of sunlight, may regularly produce vibrant oranges and reds, while nearby sugar maple in the shade of the forest will turn a subdued yellow, lacking the sugar reserves produced by their neighbors in the sun.

Leaf color change is also the result of a very predictable process based on the longer night period as summer slips into fall. The production of green chlorophyll pigments slows and finally stops as the nights become longer and cooler, exposing the yellows and oranges of carotenoids and reds and maroons of anthocyanins. This process also starts forming a zone of separation between the leaf and branch that ultimately brings the leaves to the ground, often with the help of wind and rain.

My best answer to those asking for a fall color prediction is another set of questions: how was your weather, what species of trees do you have, and how much sunlight do they receive?

Resources:
Why Leaves Change Color, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area
Fifty Trees of the Midwest App for the iPhone, The Education Store
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Shrubs of Indiana CD: Their Identification and Uses, The Education Store
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest: Identification, Wildlife Values and Landscaping Use, The Education Store
Trees of Indiana CD, The Education Store

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Purdue zipTrips are virtual electronic field trips provided by Purdue for students to get a glimpse into what makes Purdue one of the leading universities in the nation. Students engage with Purdue faculty and scientists through a live webcast, while traveling on a “virtual electronic field trip” of labs, greenhouses, and other interesting Purdue facilities. After each live event, the webcast is archived and can be viewed online. ZipTrips covers a variety of topics, including genetics, nutrition, diseases, climate change, plants, veterinary and more. Purdue FNR Dr. Jeff Dukes and Dr. Mike Jenkins are featured in the video above for zipTrips. Other members of Purdue FNR’s staff that have appeared on Purdue zipTrips are Dr. Rod Williams, Brian MacGowan and Dr. Marisol Sepulveda.

Classrooms all over the world have enjoyed zipTrips. Rated as one of their favorite episodes is the “We’re All Animals” showing a Purdue Veterinary Medicine equine lab with the horse “Whitey” exercising on the large treadmill. Sign up for zipTrips to have access to future trips, past trips and online resources.

Past zipTrips featuring FNR Faculty:
Plant Science: The Green Machine – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
“It’s a Gene Thing!” – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
A Week of Scientists – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture

Other Resources:
Past zipTrips Playlist – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
Boiler Bytes – Purdue
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources’ Playlist – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture

Purdue Agriculture

 


Bagworm caterpillar.The evergreen bagworm, as its name implies, is well known for its ability to defoliate evergreen trees and shrubs like spruce, arborvitae, fir, junipers and pine. When given a chance, it will also feed on deciduous trees like maples, honeylocust, and crabapples. In late May and early June bagworms hatch from eggs that overwinter in the bag of their mother. When young bagworms begin feeding on broadleaved plants the caterpillars are too small to feed all the way through, so they leave circular patterns of skeletonization. Bagworms can be easily controlled with a spray application of spinosad (Conserve, or Fertilome borer and bagworm killer), or Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel). More control options are available on the Purdue Tree Doctor App, purdueplantdoctor.com.

View this video located on the Purdue Plant Doctor App Suite Facebook page to watch a young bagworm caterpillar poke its head out of its silken bag to feed on a maple leaf. The young caterpillar scrapes the leaf surface to feed, and cuts bits of green tissue and glues it on its back. At the end of the video it sticks out its legs and flips the entire bag over to hide from the lights.

Resources:
Purdue Plant Doctor App Suite, Purdue Extension-Entomology
Landscape & Oranmentals-Bagworms, The Education Store
Upcoming Workshops, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources
Ask An Expert, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources

FNR contacts:
Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Author:
Cliff Sadof, Professor
Purdue University Department of Entomology


Students in Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) continue to volunteer for Hands of the Future, Inc., a non-profit program whose mission is to help educate children about the outdoors and natural resources. As this program continues to grow, one of their dreams has been to find woods to create a children’s forest. To have a natural site that has been embellished upon with children’s needs in mind and to encourage outdoor play and adventures.

The students plan on transforming 18.8 acres of idle woods into Zonda’s Children’s Forest. The children’s forest will be composed of six main areas:

  1. A children’s garden, equipped with a greenhouse and kitchen, thChildren climbing on tree, Hands of the Futureat’ll allow children to learn how to properly grow and cook food.
  2. An enclosed area dedicated to allowing children having fun and safe adventures.
  3. A viewing area for butterflies, birds and other organisms of the wild, allowing children to easily enjoy the life of the forest.
  4. A maze designed by sunflowers, where children can have fun and do problem-solving, while close to nature.
  5. A walk dedicated to viewing the owls and other organisms composing the forest.
  6. Another enclosed area of the woods for adventures; However, it’ll also contain tree houses, bridges and other fun additions for the children.

Donations:
Donations to help make Zonda’s Children’s Forest a reality can be made here. They have six months to raise $235,000 in order to purchase the woods.

Volunteers & Interns:
Older students and adults can apply to be a volunteer. Volunteers are always appreciated, no past experience necessary. If you love nature and kids you will enjoy this program. Internships are available for college students, contact Zonda Bryant.

Resources:
Hands of the Future, Inc.
Junior Nature Club

Zonda Bryant, Director
765.366.9126
director@hands-future.org

 


Posted on May 25th, 2017 in Forestry, How To, Safety | No Comments »

The end of the school year represents not only the beginning of summer but also the start of field season. Time spent out in the field can be fun, informative, and an opportunity to gather important data. Field data can also be difficult to gather as outdoor conditions are often unpredictable. Anyone expecting to do work out in the field must be prepared for anything. In addition to the likelihood of heat stress and the threat of diseases carried by insect assailants (i.e. ticks, mosquitoes), those in the field must prepare for events that come naturally with doing research outside of a controlled environment.

Packing an emergency bag before venturing into the field is one way to ensure that negative ramifications of any accidents are kept to a minimum or eliminated completely. Standard emergency supplies should accompany field researchers on every trip. The nature of the outing should also be considered since additional, more specialized, equipment may be needed in some areas. Typical emergency equipment needed for each foray into the wild includes:

  • Charged cell phone with an extra battery and a charger (stored in plastic bag with some petty cash)
  • Fully stocked first aid kit (large size with an array of bandages and wound wrapping materials) with specialized field supplies (fish hook removers, seasickness tablets, flare gun, mosquito net, etc.) and general forest supplies (sunscreen, poison ivy/oak/sumac cream, insect repellent)
  • Vehicle emergency kit (with vehicle operator’s manual and emergency blankets)
  • Non-perishable, easy to open food stuffs (i.e. peanut butter, beef jerky, granola bars)
  • Water (minimum of 1 gal / person / day of the trip plus an additional 3 days) and water purification tablets or filter devices
  • Plastic Ziploc bags for personal hygiene products (toilet paper, sanitizing wipes, feminine products), extra clothes including a brimmed hat, and electronic devices
  • Local guidebook and ability to identify hazardous plant and native wildlife species in the traversed field region
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Two-way radio (if necessary to work alone in an isolated or dangerous area and check in regularly) and handheld weather station
  • Personal protective equipment (safety glasses/goggles, gloves, hard hat, sturdy boots, etc.)
  • Identification (photocopy of driver’s license, medical prescriptions and coverage information, and emergency contact information) for everyone in the field
  • Maps, compass, and GPS unit

Following this list is the first start to a safe and successful field season! Best of luck!

Resources:
Nature of Teaching-Health and Wellness, Purdue Extension
Benefits of Connecting with Nature
, The Education Store
Orphaned Wildlife, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Storm damage, trees downSafety first! Stay clear and look for dangerous hanging limbs, broken branches and other failures before beginning cleanup or inspections. Keep others clear of the areas beneath and around damaged trees. Be alert for power lines that could be involved with damaged trees. All utility lines should be considered energized and dangerous.

Lindsey Purcell, Purdue urban forestry specialist, shares, “in my experience, during storm cleanup, many tree owners are faced with the decision of what to do with their trees relative to restoration or removal”.  There are several types of tree damage that occur from violent weather. Each has its own specific assessment considerations. All parts of the tree should be inspected during a post-storm assessment. This requires the expertise of trained, professional arborists to assist with the decision making regarding the best course of action. Unfortunately, there are those who take advantage of the situation and overcharge or provide poor advice when it comes to the best decision on their trees. Don’t make any hasty decisions and be sure you are hiring an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist, ask for references and proof of insurance in the process.

View publication Trees and Storms located in the Purdue Extension-The Education Store for more information.

Resources:
Trees and Storms – The Education Store, Purdue Education Resource Center
Caring for storm-damaged trees/How to Acidify Soil in the Yard – In the Grow, Purdue Extension
Expert: Some storm damage can be easily prevented – Fox 59 News
What to do with your damaged trees – WLFI
Why Is My Tree Dying? – The Education Store
Tree Risk Management – The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment – The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Frogs and Toads of Indiana, FNR-516Frogs and Toads of Indiana is the latest and final addition to Purdue Extension’s line of field guides focused on the reptiles and amphibians of Indiana. Readers of this guide will not only learn how to ID the Anuran species of Indiana but will also learn about their distribution throughout the state along with their habits and behaviors. The guide is richly illustrated, filled with interesting facts, and has been peer-reviewed by expert herpetologists.

As many herpetologists and recreational herpers can attest, seeing what you are hearing is not always possible. With this in mind, we developed a website The Frogs and Toads of Indiana for users that wish to learn the calls of Indiana Anuran species.

The Frogs and Toads of Indiana, FNR-516, can be purchased from the The Education Store for $10.00.

Resources, The Education Store-Purdue Extension resource center:
Salamanders of Indiana
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana
Snakes of the Central and Northeastern United States
Turtles of Indiana

Additional resources:
The Nature of Teaching, Lesson Plans K-12, Purdue Extension

Nick Burgmeier, Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on April 10th, 2017 in Forestry, How To, Timber Marketing | No Comments »

Tax preparation time usually brings with it questions about what is deductible, how do I report this income, and what can I do to save on my taxes in the future. Fortunately for woodland owners, there are several excellent resources available to help you find some guidance.timbertax.org

A national site addressing tax issues for woodland owners is the National Timber Tax Website. This site provides updated tax tips for the 2016 filing year, as well as many guides and references to help you effectively plan a tax strategy for your property.

Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources Extension offers some publications covering taxation issues for timber sales and tree planting.
How to Treat Timber Sale Income
Determining Tax Basis of Timber
Financial and Tax Aspects of Tree Planting

If you sold timber or planted trees for timber production last year, the references above may help you understand your options and possibly provide some tax savings.

Familiarizing yourself with the special treatment timber sales and tree plantings, which may be given in the tax code, can also help you more effectively plan for future tax returns.

Other resources:
U.S. Forest Service
The Education Store, Purdue Extension (place in search field: “timber”)

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC)
Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University


What comes to mind when you think of Purdue Extension? Agriculture and natural resources? Maybe Indiana 4-H? Right on both counts, but perhaps you don’t know how #PurdueExtension helps build health coalitions statewide. Or how we’re revitalizing economic opportunity in Indiana’s rural regions, helping immigrants acclimate to life in our state, or offering parents programs that build confidence and strengthen families. Learn about all of this and more in the 2016 Purdue Extension Annual Report!

Resources:
Purdue Extension Annual Report – 2016
Purdue Extension Home Page
What is Purdue Extension? – Purdue Extension Video

ExtAnnualReportImage

 

Jason Henderson, Director Cooperative Extension Service & Associate Dean
Purdue Extension


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