From Southern Wisconsin

Birds and mammals aren’t the only animals needing help when winter weather tries its best to continue.
Outdoors recreationists might think of landowners and farmers in particular, and ask, “Is there anything I can help you with as a neighbor or one who has borrowed your land to hunt, hike, photograph, gather and sightsee?”
Shoveling snow surely comes to mind and dozens of other tasks as the season changes to spring and beyond. One might be surprised what these people could use a hand doing.
In addition to feeding birds, get rid of some of the snow under the feeders for those ground-loving juncos. Notice all the birds who make use of roadsides where the plows have opened up the earth.   
Our own feet and legs could use help, too. Snowshoes anyone? Or gaiters, those boot extensions for conditions like this when the snow is deeper than boots are tall. And of course boot chains, commonly called creepers, save many a trip to the emergency room to repair a broken bone. There’s ice under all this snow.
I was surprised to get an email from California, of a handful of morel mushrooms. What a lift in February, but in 2012 Wisconsinites were finding morels here in late March. Really!
Sapcicles, those frozen icicles emerging from cracks, cuts and breaks in maple tree bark are beginning to appear. That’s a sure sign sap is beginning to run on warmer, sunny days. Watch for birds and squirrels to find these sweets (four percent sucrose) as well and lick or soak up the liquid sap, too.
Even putting out a cup to collect some sap, any maple tree will do, will bring a chickadee or two to the cup’s brim.
Continue to look for other signs that spring will eventually appear. Skunks will come out of hibernation and join opossum who are already working roadside carrion, sometimes becoming it themselves.
Bonus turkey permit counter sales begin March 18, for Zone 1 with the other six zones to follow on March 19, March 20, and so on until March 23, when all permits for all zones are available, one per customer per day. Prices remain the same, $10 and $15 for residents and nonresidents, respectively.
Two federal bills, which might eventually help in the management of chronic wasting disease are being discussed. CWD is now found in 26 states. It impacts deer, elk, moose and caribou. Continue to watch for snowmobilers, trails closing, ice shanty removal deadlines and ice safety in general.
Refrain from that urge to feed deer, even though they are seeking anything edible, including tree bark and attached lichens, mosses and algae. The enjoy white cedar trees and shrubs, as well as white pines and dried leaves on oaks. Any frozen fruits, including crabapples, are targeted, too.
Where deer feed, even in yards, is a likely location for an antler to be dropped. Some are hanging on long enough that some hunters are jokingly calling them horns, which are never shed.
Bald eagles are beginning to sit on the first egg laid in all these winter elements. If an eagle is sitting low in a nest bowl, it is incubating and will not leave until the mate comes to take its shift.     
Winter doldrums should never keep us from participating in the outdoors, but may require searching for different activities.
Kids are not the only ones who may need to be told, “Get off the sofa strap on some appropriate footwear and get outside.”

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112