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Spring is definitely in the air

I know spring is in the air when turkeys are strutting in the front yard under my wife's bird feeders.

An old gobbler was showing his lady friends how pretty he could be not 30 feet from the house. When turkey season opens in a few weeks, I am sure he will not be there. I hope not anyway; the neighbors get nervous when I shoot a shotgun out of my front door.

A few bluebirds have been checking out the area. The males migrate north first to find a suitable nesting site and stake their claims when the females return.

My wife and I took the grandsons on the bluebird trail last Sunday. This is a line of bluebird houses that extends from one end of the farm to the other. The boys and I have built a few houses each year so over the years, there has gotten to be quite a number of them. The spring ritual entails taking the Gator, a power screwdriver, two or three dogs, a couple of boys, and Nanna on a ride to clean and repair the houses for the coming nesting season.

The first house, much to the surprise of the entire group, contained two mice. When I removed the top, they jumped out, causing two boys and three dogs to run around in circles in hot pursuit. In the confusion, the mice both escaped unscathed. This got the attention of my assistants.

Cleaning bird houses might be more fun than they expected. Several houses later, another mouse had taken up residence. The boys were ready. When they started yelling and running about, the dogs knew what was happening. Boudreaux grabbed the mouse and had a quick snack before the other dogs could get it.

We found a couple houses that need to be replaced and several new places that could use a nice bluebird house. A person can never have too many bluebirds.

We checked the trail cameras on the way back. The one had 60 pictures, mostly of deer and a few turkeys, but nothing spectacular.

I had placed the other camera near a ditch. The last time it had snowed, I noticed all sorts of tracks in the fresh powder. I was excited to see if we could get pictures of everything from bobcats and coyotes to mink and squirrels. The indicator on the camera said there were 1,082 pictures. It had been just over a week! Every animal in the area must have walked by at least twice each day.

We checked the pictures to find three deer, four pictures of turkeys and 1,075 pictures of a branch blowing in front of the motion detector on the camera.

Driving past the lake, we noticed three white birds on the far side. Since the grandsons' parents had long since given us up for lost, we drove around to the other side of the lake. Three trumpeter swans swam slowly away from us. One of them was 8T9, who grew up on our lake and migrates to Canada in the spring. With her were another adult and a juvenile. I assume this is her mate and young she had with her when she stopped by last fall.

It was a great afternoon enjoyed by all of us. The dogs got enough exercise to last them at least a week. The boys slept well that night and my wife and I had the satisfaction of being outside, getting ready for spring. It is important to instill into another generation what spring means to us and the wildlife around us.

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