Youth

Fishing’s Future announces Catch-Photo-Release contest for youth anglers

 

Non-profit fishing outreach organization to launch contest on Father’s Day, June 21st

By Shane Wilson

 

Non-profit organization Fishing’s Future has nearly 60 chapters in more than 15 states with the primary mission of getting kids and adults outdoors. In 2014 alone, Fishing’s Future chapters worked with over 100,000 participants – all by unpaid chapter organizers and volunteers. This year the organization anticipates reaching 250,000 youth anglers and parents.

“Positive people bring positive change and that’s what Fishing’s Future is all about,” says founder Shane Wilson. “All across America, families are turning to electronic devices to communicate. Family communication, as it once was, is decreasing and the human connection is slowly being replaced with digital neutrality. Our goal is to get kids and parents back on the water, forging bonds and creating memories that will last a lifetime!”

Along these lines, Fishing’s Future is proud to announce the launch of national Catch-Photo-Release contest for youth anglers on Father’s Day, June 21st, 2015. http://fishingsfuture.org/ The contest is not species-specific and is free for any youth ages 16 and under across the nation.

Contest requirements are simple. All a young angler has to do is catch a fish, photograph it, release it, and write a 200 word (or under) reflection on their angling experience, then submit the photo and mini-essay via the Fishing’s Future Facebook page between Sunday, June 21st, and contest end, August 31st, 2015. http://facebook.com/fishingsfuture

All entries will be reviewed and winners chosen by Fishing’s Future chapter volunteers. Winners will be notified via e-mail and publicized via Facebook.

Grand prize winner will receive a week-long, vacation at beautiful Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort on South Padre Island, Texas, for a family of four, airfare courtesy of South Padre island Convention and Visitors Bureau. Grand prize package will also include Black Dragon Pirate Ship cruise, a guided shark fishing excursion and much more! Airfare, hotel and activity expenses covered; food & drink not included.

http://www.schlitterbahn.com/south-padre-island/resort & http://www.sopadre.com/

Second place winner will receive a 2015 Tracker Grizzly 1448 MVX Jon boat and trailer courtesy of the Tracker Marine Group! http://www.trackerboats.com/boat/?boat=3669

Third place winner will receive a Humminbird Helix SI GPS and Old Town Vapor 12 kayak with paddle and PFD. http://www.humminbird.com/Products/HELIX-5-SONAR-GPS/ and http://www.oldtowncanoe.com/kayaks/vapor_angler_family/

And each week four random winners will be drawn to receive rod/reel and tackle prize packages courtesy of Fishing’s Future sponsors Pure Fishing and Plano. http://purefishing.com/ & http://www.planomolding.com/

For more information, please visit http://fishingsfuture.org/

So what kind of creature is a Ringtail? A cat? A raccoon? Or something else entirely?

 

By eNature

 

There’s an intriguing mammal that most folks have never heard of living in parts of the United States — the Ringtail.

 

Ringtail

Ringtail, photographed in Arizona, showing the source of its name © Robert Body

 

The Ringtail is a small ground-dwelling mammal found in the arid regions of the Western US and is known by a number of common names including Ring-tailed Cat, Civet Cat or Miner’s Cat.

The name confusion is easy to understand as the Ringtail looks like a cross between a house cat and a raccoon and displays some of the characteristics that make both species appealing to humans.

 

A Distinctive Look

Averaging a weight of about three pounds, ringtails are nocturnal creatures with large eyes and upright ears that are optimized for activity after dark.

 

Ringtail-face

Ringtail face, note distinctive eyes and ears © Robert Body

 

An adult’s tail is about a foot long, with seven to nine black rings, and generally the same length as the animal’s body. While primarily used for balance the tail can also serve as a distraction for potential predators which focus on and grab its tail rather than the body, giving the Ringtail a greater chance of escaping

 

So Is The Ringtail A Feline?
It turns out, that despite all the cat references in the colloquial names given to it, the Ringtail is actually a member of the raccoon family. Its cousins found in the US are the Common Raccoon and the White-nosed Coati.

 

RINGTAIL range

Range of Ringtail

 

It’s an active creature and can leap like a squirrel and use its sharp claws to climb walls like a spider. These acrobatic skills help the animal hunt. But since it emerges from its den only at night, few humans ever see the Ringtail at work. And perhaps that’s just as well.

 

A Messy Eater
Here’s why: First, the Ringtail ambushes its prey (anything from a toad to a rabbit is fair game). Then, using its forepaws, it pins the animal down and, like a furry Count Dracula, administers a deadly bite to the neck. The meal proper then commences, usually with the Ringtail devouring its victim’s head.

 

It’s not a pretty sight for the queasy observer. But as many of our commenters point out, while nature is almost always amazing to observe, it’s not always pretty.

 

Have you ever encountered a Ringtail? Or another messy eater?

 

We always enjoy hearing our readers’ stories.

Beginner sailing classes to be held for youth ages 8-17

Sailing-Classes

 

The Ninnescah Sailing Association’s (NSA) Jr. Sailing Camps are underway and youth age 8-17 are invited to attend. The first camp session will be offered July 6-10, and a second camp session will be offered July 20-24. All classes will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and will be held at the Afterdeck Activity Center at Cheney Lake. Topics covered will include water safety, sailboat handling, sailboat racing, and sportsmanship.

 

Parents can rest assured their children will be in good hands as the camp is taught by experienced, certified U.S. sailing instructors Brenyn Kissinger, Charlene Randle, and Texie Randle.

 

The cost to attend is $150 per non-member student, and $125 for members. Non-member students will receive a one-year junior membership in NSA with registration. Life jackets, course materials, use of sailboats, and safety equipment are included in the fee.

 

For information and to register, call (316) 655-4993 or e-mail [email protected].

So what kind of creature is a Ringtail? A cat? A Raccoon? Or something else entirely?

 

By eNature

 

Ringtail

Ringtail, photographed in Arizona, showing the source of its name © Robert Body

 

Ringtail-face

Ringtail face, note distinctive eyes and ears © Robert Body

 

RINGTAIL range

Range of Ringtail

 

There’s an intriguing mammal that most folks have never heard of living in parts of the United States— the Ringtail.

The Ringtail is a small ground-dwelling mammal found in the arid regions of the Western US and is known by a number of common names including Ring-tailed Cat, Civet Cat or Miner’s Cat.

The name confusion is easy to understand as the Ringtail looks like a cross between a house cat and a raccoon and displays some of the characteristics that make both species appealing to humans.

 

A Distinctive Look
Averaging a weight of about three pounds, ringtails are nocturnal creatures with large eyes and upright ears that are optimized for activity after dark.

 

An adult’s tail is about a foot long, with seven to nine black rings and generally the same length as the animal’s body. While primarily used for balance, the tail can also serve as a distraction for potential predators which focus on and grab its tail rather than the body, giving the ringtail a greater chance of escaping

 

So Is The Ringtail a Feline?
It turns out, that despite all the cat references in the colloquial names given to it, the Ringtail is actually a member of the raccoon family.  Its cousin’s found in the US are the Common Raccoon and the White-nosed Coati.

 

It’s an active creature and can leap like a squirrel and use its sharp claws to climb walls like a spider. These acrobatic skills help the animal hunt. But since it emerges from its den only at night, few humans ever see the Ringtail at work.

 

And perhaps that’s just as well.

 

A Messy Eater
Here’s why: First, the Ringtail ambushes its prey (anything from a toad to a rabbit is fair game).

 

Then, using its forepaws, it pins the animal down and, like a furry Count Dracula, administers a deadly bite to the neck. The meal proper then commences, usually with the Ringtail devouring its victim’s head.

 

It’s not a pretty sight for the queasy observer.  But as many of our commentators point out, while nature is almost always amazing to observe, it’s not always pretty.

 

Have you ever encountered a ringtail? Or another messy eater?

 

We always enjoy hearing our reader’s stories.

Coyotes— They’re turning up everywhere!

By eNature

 

Coyote1

Coyote © Rebecca Richardson

 

People curse them, trap them, shoot them, but Coyotes continue to thrive.

In fact, their range has expanded greatly in the last fifty years. Whereas people once encountered Coyotes only in Canada and the American West, now these carnivores can be found across the East Coast of the United States as well, from Maine down to South Carolina. They’ve even been spotted in the heart of New York City and Washington DC.

But who are these new arrivals? And is their presence reason for concern?

Experts believe that the spread of Coyotes across the continent has been southward, from Canada, rather than eastward, from the West, with the largest numbers moving into new territories within the last several decades. Three factors have drawn Coyotes to these regions: an absence of natural predators, abundant habitat and prey, and wildlife regulations generally favorable to the animal’s survival.

It also helps that Coyotes are extremely adaptable. They prefer to live in open plains and prairies, but since such land is scarce in the East, they’ve settled into brushy areas instead, as well as fields, marshes, and at the edges of deciduous woodlands. The home territory of a single Coyote can measure up to five miles in diameter, and though Coyotes sometimes travel with their mates or with an extended family group, most often they’re seen alone.

 

Red-Fox-USFWS

Red Fox © USFWS

At first glance, a Coyote looks a lot like a Red Fox. Their size and coloration are about the same. The most obvious difference between these two animals lies in their tails. The tip of a Coyote’s tail is dark, while a Red Fox has a white-tipped tail. Also, a Coyote runs with its tail down, and a fox runs with its tail pointing straight out behind it. Another distinction is in their calls: both yip, but the Coyote quite often emits a series of barks and howls prior to its yipping calls.

As noted, Coyotes eat meat. Rabbits, hares, and White-tailed Deer carrion make up the bulk of an Eastern Coyote’s diet, but there are many other items on its menu, including the occasional family pet and one or a few watermelons from a garden patch. Coyotes are not shy around houses, and their curiosity and predatory instincts occasionally lead to trouble with humans.

For the record, Coyotes very rarely bite people, and when they do it’s usually because they’ve been induced into feeding from the hand. Yes, they raid garbage cans and gardens and have been known to kill cats and small dogs, but overall they’re not a negative addition to the landscape. The best strategy for dealing with them is to fence off sensitive areas and keep pets inside at night, when Coyotes are most active.

Have you encountered a coyote in a place where you didn’t expect to see one?

Share your stories – we’d love to hear them!

Cliff Swallows, like Cowbirds, are known to leave the parenting to others

 

By eNature

 

Cliff-Swallow-in-flight

Cliff Swallow © Don DeBold

 

How many parents have longed to leave raising an obstreperous child to some other person….  For some birds, it actually happens.

Cliff Swallows are colonial—that is, they nest in colonies, sometimes numbering in the thousands of birds. In many ways the members of a colony appear to display remarkable social cohesiveness. They work together to mob predators and will even learn from each other where the good food sources are.

But if you look closely at a Cliff Swallow colony, you’ll see that this seemingly cooperative community also harbors its share of dastardly misbehavior.  Or is it actually a smart way to parent?

In every colony there are a few swallows (you might call them bad eggs) that parasitize their neighbors. They do this not by sucking other swallows’ blood or stealing food, but by putting their eggs in nests other than their own. Sometimes the sneaky swallow will even toss out one of the nest owner’s eggs before laying her egg in its place! This behavior is known as brood parasitism. The extra eggs go undetected, and the surrogate parents end up doing the work of raising the slacker’s young.

These parasitic egg-laying visits are clandestine and quick, but some Cliff Swallows have been spotted launching an even faster, more remarkable sneak attack: carrying eggs in their very small beaks (adapted for catching tiny insects on the wing) and quickly dropping them into a neighbor’s nest.

Incoming!

Learn more about Cliff Swallow in the eNature Field Guide »

Which species is this?

Brownheaded cowbird female

Do you know the name of this sneaky little songbird? Photo by Linda Petersen via Birdshare

 

Despite this small brown bird’s unassuming looks, this is one of the most notorious songbirds in North America. That oddly sharp, thick, black bill is one distinctive feature.

 

You’ll also get a clue from seeing its eggs—although you won’t learn anything by looking for its nest.

 

Do you know which species this is? Check your guess and learn more from the NestWatch project.

Here’s why Easter eggs (and most regular eggs too) are oval-shaped instead of just round spheres

By eNature

 

This is the time of year when eggs are turning up everywhere— in Easter baskets for many, not too mention in bird nests across the country too.

 

With all these eggs around, it’s easy to take them for granted.

 

While we tend to not talk much about bird nests at eNature.com because we just don’t want to encourage folks to disturb nesting birds, eggs are actually very specialized objects and full of remarkable stories.

 

For instance, ever wonder why birds lay eggs of different colors and shapes?

 

There’s a good reason for just about everything we encounter in nature and, as you’d expect, eggs are no exception.

robin nest -eggs by George Harrison

American robin eggs are blue to blend with natural surrounds. © George Harrison

Why are do eggs come in colors?  Birds’ eggs are colored for protective reasons. The parent birds that incubate them are not always on the nest covering them and at those times the eggs are exposed to predators. The colors, speckles or spots on them are camouflage. This also explains why birds that nest in cavities often lay all white eggs. They can’t be seen even when the parent birds are not sitting on them.

 

Why do the shapes of bird eggs vary? Again, to protect them. Birds that nest on cliffs, such as many seabirds, tend to have eggs that are smaller at one end than at the other. This is to make them roll in a circle and less likely to fall off the cliff. Birds with rounder eggs usually build deep nests that keep them from rolling out.

 

How do baby birds hatch? They have a so-called “egg tooth” on the top of their upper mandible, which cuts through the egg shell when it is time for them to come out. The egg tooth falls off soon after hatching.

 

Why do the eggs in a nest often all hatch at about the same time? Because most birds lay an egg a day, but do not begin incubating them until the last egg is laid. One notable exception is the barn owl, which begins incubation with the laying of the first egg. That’s why the youngsters in a brood range in size and age from the oldest to the youngest.

 

And What About Jelly Beans? As for jelly-beans and their shape… they too have evolved.  According to at least one cultural historian, jelly beans appear to have become more egg-shaped and less bean-shaped over the years as the candy, thought to have first been created around the time of the Civil War, has become more associated with Easter and children’s Easter baskets.

Have a favorite fact or anecdote about nesting birds you’d like to share?

 

Are your local birds singing through the night? Here’s a list of the likely culprits

By eNature

 

Is something (or someone) keeping you awake these spring nights?  Waking you up before sunrise?

Many questions come to eNature about night birds calling and other weird and incessant noises in the dark.  It seems that there’s a lot of activity taking place when most of us expect our birds to be resting.

So what’s going on?  And who’s making all that noise in the dark?

Depending on the kinds of calls, and you location in North America, they could be any of at least four bird species.

Whip-poor-will

Whip-poor-wills and their relatives are famous for calling their names, over and over again, sometime into the thousands of times without stopping. Unless you like to fall to sleep to the call of the whip-poor-will, it can become annoying.

Northern_Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbirds are well known night callers, especially if there is a full moon. Enthusiastic mockingbirds can stay up ALL night, mimicking every bird song in the book as well as other sounds such bells, whistles, and sirens. These are birds that can try the patience of the most committed bird-lover!

Black_crowned Night Heron

If the call is coming from a wetland, it is probably one of the two night-herons, the Black-crowned or Yellow-crowned. They make squawks and cackles, and sometimes scary noises that will wake the heaviest sleeper.

Great-horned-owl

Owls make another kind of noise in the night, which can range from the hooting of great horned owls to the whinnyings of screech-owls.

All of these birds are protected by state and federal laws, and nothing can or should be done to disturb them, not matter how annoying they are. The best solution is to either enjoy them, or to put plugs in your ears.

This advice may not help you get through the day at work..  but most of us prefer to think of those late night sounds as the glorious sound of spring.

Are you hearing your local birds’ and their squawks, chirps or cackles in the night?

We always love to hear your stories!

To listen to these bird calls and many others, please visit the Birding Audio feature. »

And be sure to use the Local Guides to find out which birds are in your neighborhood »

 

OK Kids Day at Meade State Park

 

If you’re in need of a family-friendly outdoor activity for your children, consider bringing them to Meade State Park’s annual OK Kids Day on Saturday, May 9 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Open to children of all ages, the free event will include fun activities such as fishing, wingshooting, archery, crafts, a treasure hunt, sandcastle contest, paddle boating, and more. There is no cost to attend and no daily park pass will be required the day of the event; however registration is required. Preregistration will be available Friday, May 8 from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. onsite at the Visitor’s Center, and again from 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 9.

Thanks to local and corporate sponsors, participating youth will have the opportunity to win several great prizes including a fishing rod/reel combo or tackle box and sleeping bag. Prizes are limited but youth age 7 and under are automatically eligible for a prize.

A complimentary lunch of hamburgers, elk burgers, and hotdogs will be served.

For more information on this event, or to volunteer, call the Meade State Park office at (620) 873-2572.

OK Kids is developed and operated by the Kansas Wildscape Foundation.