Egg Eating Predators
Inside the Outdoors, May 15
, 2015

I’m always happy to hear about youth who enjoy the great outdoors. That means they are getting out and exploring the woods, rocks and particularly, in this case, the waters.

So, when I met up with a group of youngsters, including baseball players, in Legion Keener Park recently, we started to talk about fishing. It was like turning on a light switch. Somber faces turned to smiles and each lad, I think, tried to impress upon me who caught the biggest and most fish in the last two weeks.

One fellow turned to me and pointed to an area in Loyalhanna Creek. “There is where I caught an 18-inch smallmouth bass,” he said. I asked him what he was using and he stated, “A Hula-popper.” That is a floating lure that is manufactured by Arbogast.

Many of the others said they caught large trout at fishing derbies. I was more interested in the facts pertaining to the creeks or surrounding lakes. The derby ponds are usually stocked with trout three or four days before the event takes place.

I informed them to keep at it and to get back to me when another exciting day on the waters takes place.

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It saddens me to make this announcement, but hawks and now eagles are cleaning the park of all the small game that exists. No more does one see rabbits or squirrels scampering around the trees. It even used to be that trail walkers would feed the squirrels. The animals would actually come up to the people and wander over to the morsels of bread that were left for them. But that, I’m afraid is a thing of the past and there is nothing one can do about it.

One grounds keeper who was cutting grass around the track in Memorial Stadium told me he had just turned his mower to head back up the field. His location – approximately 10 feet from the goal post. As he neared it, a hawk flew down and perched on the bar paying no heed to the Greater Latrobe’s School District employee.

“I was amazed,” he said. “I even started talking to it, but it paid no attention to me, looking all around and even up in the sky.”

Interested to see if my theory concerning the loss of small game was correct, he said. “You are right. I have found bones out in the field.”

He then stated if you want to see the eagle, as many others are sighting it, one has to get down here early in the morning.

So if one is a bird of prey lover, I guess Legion Keener Park in Latrobe is the place to go.

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It was good to hear that Captain Tom Crist of the southwest office of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission took some time off and did a bit of fishing recently. According to Crist, “I did well at Acme Dam catching some nice crappies on a Mr. Twister tagged with waxworms. Minnows worked well, too.” He stated that his visit to Greenlick proved worthwhile as well, as he caught a number of crappies there, too. Comparatively speaking, he stated Acme was better than Greenlick, but he came away pleased from both bodies of water.

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Every year when spring makes its presence known, birds both tiny and large have carried through with the instinctive tradition of building nests, laying eggs and eventually bearing young.

Many of us who sight bird nests in trees or shrubs that weren’t there a month ago ever give it a second thought that the whole process from start to finish won’t go without a hitch.

That’s the farthest from the truth. We nature lovers may think that the process goes through the cycle with no incurred problems, but that is the farthest from the truth. Every bird that exists on earth, regardless of where it resides, would like it to be so, but I’m afraid it’s not in the cards.

There are several predators out there that will eat the eggs. These include rats, mice, fox, hedgehogs, mink, garter snakes, ravens, crows and gray squirrels. A matter of fact, in the May 8, 2015 edition of Pennsylvania Outdoor News, a staff reporter confirmed in an article titled, “Video shows whitetails eat eggs from bird nests, “…that deer have no problem raiding nests. Biologists say it’s likely deer are taking advantage of a quick and easy meal.”

According to a U.S. Geological report, “Although probably opportunistic, deer predations clearly were deliberate and likely are more common than generally believed.” Do you suppose they look for a saltlick nearby?


- Paul J. Volkmann
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