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Spring is in the air, just ask wildlife

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outdoors Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ast week, almost every day, either my wife or I saw a flock of wild turkeys in the front yard. One morning they would be up by the barn, the next afternoon they would be scratching around the garden.

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Other than being able to see them so close to the house, the part that excited me most was they were all hens. If there are that many hens in one place, one day soon a gobbler or two will show up. I should be able to hunt turkeys in my front yard in a few weeks when turkey season opens. I have heard a couple gobbles off in the distance in the early morning hours. This is a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.

Another sure sign is spotting the first bluebird of the year. The males migrate north a few weeks before the females in search of appropriate places to build a nest. A hollow tree or fence post will do, but I think they actually prefer man-made bluebird houses.

My wife and I were sitting on the front porch of the cabin enjoying a mild spring afternoon when we saw our first bluebird of the season. I knew we had to get the houses cleaned immediately. We headed home to get the Gator to get around the farm and a power screwdriver to open the houses.

Since it was getting late, my wife did not want to go back out. I called the grandsons to see if they would like to help. Zane said he would help if he could drive. Last year, I drove while he cleaned the houses. I think he remembered mice running up his arm a couple of times when he took off the lid. After the second time, he seemed a little jumpy when he opened a house.

For seven years old, he does a good job of driving. I stood in the back of the Gator while Zane pulled next to a bird house. Zip, zip and the lid was off. A few seconds to scoop out the old nesting materials, screw the top back on, and we were on our way to the next house. It did not take long to make the circuit assuring all our bluebirds will have a clean and happy home this year.

We drove through several food plots on the way back to Zane's house. The winter wheat is greening up and everything in the area has been enjoying it. Sections were torn up from turkeys scratching through the snow to get the highly nutritious shoots just a week or two ago. Deer tracks are everywhere in the wheat and every new shoot has been nipped off at least once. We drove through our biggest turnip patch. It is a good thing spring has gotten here since we did not see even one turnip left. When snow fell in early December, turnips from the size of golf balls to soft balls were everywhere. This had to have been a popular banquet sight for all types of animals on those cold January days. Turnips are a good food source that can provide much needed energy. Everything also seems to enjoy eating them, even the grandkids and I.

By the time my chauffeur pulled up to his house, it was getting dark. We had a great time on the tour and had everything of any importance thoroughly discussed. For the first time in six months, the temperature was not below freezing when the sun set. We decided spring really was here and we are ready for it.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.

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