Wildlife Adapting to Winter | News, sports, jobs

PHOTOS OF Gary BRANDENBURG – Winter-like weather has given people and wildlife a heavy dose of reality this past week. The snowy conditions were a sure sign that the planet’s chaotic weather machine was still alive and well. What we need to do is adapt. Wildlife is already equipped for this natural cycle of shorter days, cooler air, and tough times finding food. In today’s photos, snow piling up on fallen tree limbs in the Iowa River is reflected as the mirror of the smooth water, an interesting combination. As this image is being made, snowflakes can be observed filling the air. And in a harvested farm field, 24 turkeys and at least two deer were scavenging for any ears of corn or just dropped corn kernels to eat. Wildlife with a good build-up of body fat will be able to survive the long winter.

Winter weather is with us, even if the fall season says otherwise. The weather this week was a bit of a surprise but not expected.

November is a major transitional month for weather events, and Mother Nature just made sure to figure out who was in charge. A quick scan of the weather history books tells us about everything from mild and above normal air temperatures, to rain, or snow, and of course in Iowa we mustn’t forget the wind.

Those arctic blasts from the Northwest can sometimes pierce even the finest winter clothes to send chills through our bodies. Our friends in Florida, Texas or Arizona would love to call us with an open invitation to come visit us over the next three months.

My answer is “No thanks. I’m Aiwan and this is where I live.” Home is where the heart is, and although this author loves to visit other places, it’s always nice to be home.

Even in retirement, now in my eighteenth year, I have obligations that must be met. So does my wife in her volunteer endeavors. Our schedules are mostly flexible on our terms, not on your employer’s terms.

It is worth noting a footnote in this author’s history book. Last week’s edition of Outdoors Today had an issue number of 1,600. Today, that number has increased by one.

Since October 1991, when I began presenting Outdoor Adventure Highlights, wildlife and nature photography for engagement, writing stories, and sharing observations of the natural world has become a passion. I can educate the readers of this column with natural history events, good photos, and fact-based information as we continue to learn more about the wonderful natural world we live in together.

My stories and observations from nature began a long time ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my curiosity about wildlife and wild places began when a young farm boy was growing up on a farm in Bremer County, Iowa.

Hard work was ingrained in me through the examples given by my parents, other family members, and friends. After the hard work is done, time is periodically found to explore.

Ring-necked riders beckoned me after them after a school bus dropped me off. A quick trip along the rows of grass hedges can be taken before the cows need to be milked.

My goal was to bring the rooster home. Our farm dog named Sport, knew a hunting trip was a good thing. Pheasant dinner a few days later was food we didn’t have to buy.

The interesting thing about those pheasant hunts was the little patch of unbroken prairie in the middle of the section. This place was amazing. It contained “exotic” plants of all kinds and a unique earthy scent.

I later learned that great bluestem, prairie grass, cuttergrass, and a host of other native grasses and weeds were stunted examples of the native plants that were prevalent in Iowa. But at the time I was young and interested in riders. This little patch of land was usually good for a rooster blasting excitedly from behind a clump of grass as his wings screamed for more air and more speed.

Sometimes they run away, and sometimes I make a good shot. If the bird fell, the dog thought it was the reason for my success. With pride we brought home a colorful rooster.

My farm days ended after I graduated from high school in 1963. I had enlisted in the Air Force. I was soon to be carried away to new places in the United States and abroad, observing exotic habitats, and no pheasants.

Four years later, with the relief of my military time, Iowa State University said “Come on, glad you’re here.” At the age of 23 and a freshman at ISU, I took a fish and wildlife biology course. It was interesting to see my fascination with nature and natural systems blossom into a career path that eventually led to a job with Marshall County Council.

She started her Marshall County adventure in 1972 and retired in 2004. She found a niche in writing for work. As a result, I filled in writing for the Times-Republican editorial when it closed The Late John Garwood’s Outdoor Adventures, Sighting Upstream.

His appreciation of the natural world was evident. Some people, like Garwood and many others, share a bond with cultivated nature in part by participating in hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, camping, or simply relaxing by a river and watching the clouds drift past.

My goal in writing Outdoors Today columns is simple. I would like to share any natural history topic from A to Z. I love science and I love facts.

I do not like or approve of political correctness and the misuse of science, as some will, to misrepresent the world according to their politicized version of “the facts.” I love critical thinking and the honest discovery of the truth, even if that’s not what we might want to hear.

So I say thank you, loyal readers of this column, for your continued interest in the outdoors, Earth’s natural environments, and the long-term conservation work needed to maintain a healthy world. This is my ad because we are all enjoying Thanksgiving time this week. enjoy.


I have a walnut tree in my yard. I have planted it for almost 50 years. That tree has grown well and has produced a lot of nuts over the years. This year was the big nut production cycle for that tree.

Had I not seriously picked those nuts, walking on the soil under the tree would have been a problem. My picking technique was to try to keep up as the nut fell to the ground.

In late September I started the daily routine of picking up what fell the night before. I finished in late October when wind and time had allowed all the heavy-laden branches to release fruit. Baskets, bags, and then a trailer filled to the brim testify to the fact that 2022 has been an abundant time for this tree.

When it came time to sell the nut to Hammon Products Company in Stockton, Missouri, I called a local nut buyer near the State Center. First, I took a trailer load of nuts on a scale. After the sale, those same scales showed my total weight at 1,640 lbs.

This was the nut with its shell/outer shell on. At the purchase station, a shelling machine removed the hulls and dutifully placed the nuts into waiting sacks. When it was all over with the shelled walnuts weighing in, I had 746 pounds to sell.

Hammon has purchasing stations in many areas in 16 states in the Midwest. Annually, they take in more than 30 million pounds of nuts. The factory process takes the nuts to the next step of separating the core from the nut meat inside.

The nut meats go one way, and the broken shell slivers another. While the nut meat makes its way into a lot of food products, the shell becomes fodder for grinding into smaller and smaller pieces.

Specialty manufacturing sandblasting processes use these by-products. It’s an interesting process.


Here is a quote to think about:

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

– Henry David Thoreau, American writer and naturalist.


Gary Brandenburg is the retired Director of Marshall County County Council. Graduated from Iowa State University with a BA in Fish and Wildlife Biology.

Call him at:

PO Box 96

Albion, IA 50005

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