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From the pages of NEBRASKAland Magazine.

Conestoga — A Model Lake

Conestoga Lake is a peaceful retreat. But it’s not as quiet as it used to be. That’s what happens whenever improvements are made to a fishery near Nebraska’s capital city. And the improvements made to Conestoga were many. Located south of Emerald, Conestoga State Recreation Area is one of 11 Salt Valley Lakes built around Lincoln in the 1960s and 1970s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The dam on Holmes Creek that created the reservoir was completed in …

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Rarer Than a Three-Spurred Rooster

By Cassidy Wessel, Wildlife Biologist I can remember the first rooster pheasant I ever held as a kid, standing over the trash can in our garage helping my dad clean birds and thinking that this brown, purple, blue, red and green iridescent thing might just be too pretty to pluck. And I’m sure I did think “pluck” — skinning a bird at that time would have been completely foreign to me. Pheasants were rare table fare. Being the fifth generation …

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Northern Saw-whet Owl Migration

Northern Saw-whet Owl autumn migration in eastern Nebraska: results from a three-year banding study By Stephen J. Brenner & Joel G. Jorgensen The northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadius) is one the smallest owls in North America. In Nebraska, breeding has been documented in the Pine Ridge and Wildcat Hills and is suspected in the middle Niobrara river region, but its status over the remainder of the state is poorly defined. We recently concluded a three-year banding study at sites near …

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Roadside Viewing in Nebraska

Alternative Routes and Scenic Drives Best Ways to Travel Through State Desoto National Wildlife Refuge Drive the roads through the Desoto National Wildlife Refuge one afternoon and there’s no telling what you’ll see. Located 25 miles north of Omaha on Highway 30, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, ring-necked pheasants, waterfowl and bald eagles are visible from roads. A vehicle entry fee of $3 is charged, but waived for those with a The DeSoto Refuge annual pass ($15.00), Federal Duck Stamp and …

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American Burying Beetle Reintroduction

Nebraska Game and Parks assists in collecting American burying beetles for Ohio reintroductions By Shaun Dunn, Zoologist This summer, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and partner biologists led and participated in several trapping efforts for the federally threatened American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) in the Loess Canyons and Sandhills regions of the state. The populations in these two areas are among the largest concentrations of American burying beetles in the world. Efforts to monitor their numbers and distribution have …

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A Day With a Conservation Officer

Questions for Conservation Officer Cory Krause I had the opportunity to patrol the Elkhorn River with Game and Parks Conservation Officer Cory Krause, who is stationed in West Point in northeastern Nebraska. Shortly after getting on the water, we came upon two fishermen in a remote area of the river. As Cory predicted, they did not have valid fishing permits. Cory filled out a couple of tickets and made some calls, and just when I thought this was going to …

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Mystery Goose Mount

Waiting 50 Years to be Told The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission occasionally receives animal mounts from individuals who want or need to unload them but do not want to see them go straight to the garbage bin. These donations, if in acceptable condition, can be used for education or to spruce up a public space. Usually the mounts the agency receives possess little or no information about where the animal was harvested or collected, as most are decades old. …

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Prairie Seeds in Winter

By autumn, the seeds of most prairie plants have fallen, and with luck, pounding rain, digging animals or winter frost heaving will work them into the soil to await germination. Some seeds, however, are stragglers — held in pods, shriveled fruits or tight bracts to face the elements of winter aboveground. Many of these will fall prey to hungry birds and mammals, and a lucky few will pass through the foragers’ gut unharmed and be dispersed about the land. Others …

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A Winter Hike

A Great Time to Observe Nature Anyone can hike on a warm day, surrounded by birdsong and verdant meadows of wildflowers. The world is full of sights and sounds. But in the winter? That sounds ridiculous. It’s cold outside, the plants are all brown and animals are either hibernating or vacationing in warmer places. What are you supposed to do, tromp through the snow, bundled up like that one kid in that one movie? Well, yes. Whether you explore the …

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WMA Habitat Fuels Songbird Migration

By Stephen Brenner and Joel Jorgensen, Nongame Bird Program managers Migration is a critically important event in the lives of many avian species. This period accounts for over a quarter of the annual cycle for some birds and is extremely risky as individual birds travel long distances through unfamiliar areas. Consequently, many species experience higher rates of mortality compared to the breeding or wintering periods. Some of the smallest migratory species in North America also can travel the longest distances, …

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