Reflections

Remorse

I would like to get the Missouri Conservationist for my stepmom and dad for a gift because I have been bad lately.

I would like to make it up to them. So please send it to us. We don't get the magazine.

Andrew Freeman, Oak Ridge

Barn Buzzards

I enjoyed the article on vultures, especially the picture of the chicks. I have taken several pictures of a pair of chicks that were hatched in an old barn loft north of Jefferson City. Vultures have nested there for at least four years. Now when I tell people about the nest of buzzards in the barn, perhaps they will be less skeptical.

Wilburn Rowden, Jefferson City

Bluebirdery

We brought a nice bunch of bittersweet vines loaded with berries from the country to decorate a trellis we have on our front door. Six to eight bluebirds discovered the berries on the vines and came back regularly to eat them. All we have left now are the hulls from the vines and no bluebirds.

We would like to have the bluebirds come back. When we went back to the country to get more bittersweet vines, the berries were all gone, too. Can you offer some suggestions for attracting bluebirds? We have tried buck brush, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, chopped apple, sunflower hearts, wild bird mix and suet.

Jack & Pauline Gump, Plattsburg

Editor's note: It may be difficult to attract bluebirds if your neighborhood does not provide favorable breeding habitat. If you have bluebirds in your locale now or next winter, you might attract them with mealworms, which are available at pet stores. Many of those stores also sell mealworm feeders that are bluebird specific, or you can serve this delicacy on trays.

Changing Times

Regarding your April editorial, I can agree that generations ago, women were not often included in family outdoor hunting and fishing activities.

Times have changed, however, and I am pleased so many women are enjoying the joys of the outdoors.

Susan Stalcup Gray, Columbia

Traffic stopper

In January I ordered my Conservation Heritage personalized license plate with a bass on it, and I am delighted with it. I receive compliments on it just about every day and am continually asked, "Where did you get your license plate?"

I don't remember which issue the advertisement you ran for the license plate was in, but maybe it would be a good idea to run it again.

Roscoe G. Bernard, Kansas City

Editor's note: Our first Conservation license plate advertisement ran in the January Conservationist. This month's issue contains an advertisement on page 28 that provides a toll-free number to call for purchase information.

In Search of Foxfire

My mother, now in her 80s, lives in Eldon and would love to learn more about a phenomenon she calls foxfire. Recently she discovered that a stick of wood for her heating stove had a spot on it that glowed in the dark. She says she has only seen this twice before.

Sherry (Howser) Bailey, Tallahassee, Fla.

Editor's note: Eerie foxfire, also known as will-o'-the-wisp or faerie fire, is most commonly seen in moist fall woods. The light, a cold, dim glow, occurs when the mycelium of mushrooms that are nourished by decaying wood are exposed to air. The technical description of the light is bioluminescence. It frequently shows up in old or rotting logs or stumps that natural events or human hands searching for the phenomenon have recently broken apart. The most common source of foxfire is the honey mushroom, Armillaria mellea. Nature provides instances of bioluminescence in other creatures, including bacteria, animals, fish and insects, including fireflies. Some mystery remains attached to foxfire, however, for researchers are unable to ascertain any survival advantage for fungi emitting this strange glow.

Prune Trees

I particularly enjoyed Tim Frevert's "Making Room at the Top." My father, who was the Vice President of Operations for the St. Joseph Light and Power Company, used to teach us about trees on the way to Sunday morning church service. He pointed out the subtle differences in trunks, limbs and leaves.

He loved trees, and my brothers and I learned to love them, too. He loved a well-planned tree placement even more, and all those endless days and nights he spent after wind or ice storms brought home our lessons on how to plant a tree properly.

Directional pruning was a method Dad defended 30 years ago, and now I see it everywhere I go. This city boy has grown to love trees and, thanks to a man whose job it was to cut them, learned to love the beauty of a well-placed city tree even more.

Tom Mayer, Kirksville

We Erred!

In your answer to a letter, you said a treble hook counts as three hooks in trout parks. When you use #6 treble hooks to hold blood bait for channel cats, does that count as three hooks on a trotline?

James E. Palmer, Odessa

Editor's note: We erred in our reply. Throughout the state double or treble hooks count as one hook. Multiple hooks used to hold a single bait, such as the rigging used to catch carp on cottonseed cakes, also count as one hook. In waters restricted to fly fishing only, including those at trout parks, a fly is defined as having a single-point hook only. Up to two dropper flies, for a total of three single-point hooks, may be used in those areas.

Ask the OMBUDSMAN

Q: Is is legal to hunt armadillos?

A: The Missouri Wildlife Code is written in a permissive fashion, which means it tells you what you can do. If a season or method of capture isn't described in the Wildlife Code, it is not considered legal. The Wildlife Code contains no reference to hunting armadillos, so there is no legal season. Section 3CSR10-4.130 of the Code allows landowners to deal with armadillos that are causing damage.

Armadillos have been expanding their range to the north and east. The Conservation Department has had reports of armadillos north of the Missouri River and as far east as Jefferson County.

For more information please see http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/conmag/1997/03/3.html, or Suzanne J. Wilson's "Armadillos" in the March, 1997 Missouri Conservationist.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 751-4115, ext. 848 or e-mail him at <drenok@mail.conservation.state.mo.us>.