Miscellany

What Is It?

Ask the Ombudsman

Q. We have a male cardinal that frequents our “bird garden.” What is unusual is that he is bald! He seems to be healthy, but could this be from an illness or a predator?

A. I receive several contacts each year on the subject of bald-headed birds, usually cardinals or blue jays in the summer or fall, just after the nesting season. The condition is usually related to a bird scratching its head because of irritation by mites and lice after being on the nest for several weeks. There is a normal molting of feathers after raising young birds in a nest, which usually rids the birds of the infestation. The scratching removes all of the ready-to-molt feathers all at once. A normal molt would consist of the new feathers pushing out the old feathers without leaving any areas unfeathered. Nutritional deficiencies have also been suggested as a possible cause. Fortunately, the birds usually regrow the feathers and regain their normal appearance in a few weeks.

Q. I have recently seen hundreds of dragonflies swarming near my home. Are they migrating?

A. Swarms of dragonflies may be migrating or feeding. Migration is not well understood but is more likely to occur in late summer or early fall. It can involve many thousands of the insects moving in the same general direction. Some dragonfly migrations cover greater distances than the annual monarch butterfly migration. In mid-summer, feeding swarms of hundreds of dragonflies can occur where a recent hatch of smaller flying insects has emerged, often over grassy areas. Dragonflies are predatory on smaller flying insects (flies, mosquitoes, midges, mayflies, etc.). They are often found near water, where they lay their eggs and where their aquatic larval stage develops. Swarms are often short-lived and not commonly observed.

Q. I apply for a managed deer hunt every year but I’m never selected. What are my odds of being selected?

A. The odds of being selected depends on the hunt for which you applied. Some hunts are more popular than others and attract more applications. Last fall the odds of being selected for a hunt ranged from 1 percent to 100 percent. If you are having no luck by applying for a very popular hunt, try applying for a hunt that doesn’t attract so many applicants. Our website provides the results from last season’s managed hunts, including the chance of an applicant being selected in each hunt. See this link: mdc.mo.gov/node/22101. Anyone can apply each year and have a chance of being selected. Hunters with accumulated preference points have better odds of being selected, but luck is still a factor. Keep in mind that deer hunting on public lands is available all over Missouri without entering a drawing. The managed hunts provide an additional hunting opportunity for the lucky hunters who are drawn, but they are not the only way to have a great deer hunting experience in Missouri.

Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions, or complaints concerning the Conservation Department. Address: PO Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180 Phone: 573-522-4115, ext. 3848 Email: Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov

Agent Notes

Explore Conservation Areas

Summer is a great time of year to load up family and friends and explore the outdoors. The forests are in full bloom, the birds are singing, and the fish are often biting. Why not try exploring one of the Department’s conservation areas? Public conservation areas are located all over the state. Each area is unique.

The Conservation Department manages these areas so that folks from all over can enjoy the remarkable wonders of Missouri’s outdoors. Each conservation area has rules and regulations. All areas are closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily; however, hunting, fishing, trapping, dog training, camping, launching boats, and landing boats are permitted at any time in areas where these activities are authorized. Be sure to read the information boards posted at the entrances of each area or check the website beforehand (mdc.mo.gov/atlas) to read about the rules and regulations that apply where you will be visiting. If you plan to camp, make sure all fires are kept in designated areas and that you leave the area cleaner than you found it. If you happen to witness a violation while visiting a conservation area, please contact your local conservation agent immediately.

Conservation areas are just one way the Department helps people discover nature. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a one-day adventure in the outdoors, try a conservation area near you.

Lucas McClamroch is the conservation agent in Washington County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office.

What Is It?

Flag-tailed Spinyleg Dragonfly

Dromogomphus spoliatus On Page 1 and left is a dragonfly. There are many species of dragonflies in Missouri, ranging from very common to in danger of disappearing. Adult length is from 1 to 3½ inches (varies with species). The dragonfly’s six legs are poor for walking but good for perching and hunting (also called hawking). In flight, their legs make a basket shape that is perfect for grasping small flying insects. Dragonflies are important predators of mosquitoes, midges, and other small insects. Males will patrol their territories, driving away rival males and trying to mate with females. The female usually deposits eggs on the water’s surface. Larvae (nymphs) are aquatic. Most of a dragonfly’s life is spent as a nymph. The nymphs are important food for fish and other aquatic insectivores. —photo by Noppadol Paothong