Thank you for your January article on the peregrine falcon. It confirmed my belief that I recently spotted one here at Lake of the Ozarks. The falcon was trying to make breakfast out of one of the chickadees that frequents my feeder. Everything happened so quickly, but I clearly saw the distinct black and white belly stripes.
Kathleen Peterson, Linn Creek
Not everyone is thrilled that more birds of prey, like the peregrine falcon, are being introduced to Missouri. My wife and I have decided to discontinue feeding because of the carnage from small hawks and falcons. Not only do the small hawks kill birds around the feeders, they also kill other birds in the open field. The mockingbirds are totally gone, and we rarely see a single meadowlark.
C.L. Rhoads, Stockton
Editor's note: Numerous readers reported peregrine sightings in the vicinity of their backyard birdfeeders. Peregrines, however, are extremely rare, while sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks, which also have stripes on their bellies, are more numerous and would be expected in backyard environments. Hawks naturally take advantage of concentrations of birds. Those disturbed by the sight of a bird preying upon another should consider discontinuing feeding.
The picture of the old hunting license on the cover made me remember the old fishing and hunting licenses I had of my uncle's. The prices haven't raised much in the last 76 years. I think the prices have remained very low, with the rest of the economy going up as it has.
Tommie Dinwiddie, Lebanon
It would be nice to see the nonresidents pay more of the fee increase, and they shouldn't be able to receive any bonus tags. I'd like to commend the Conservation Commission for allowing hunters to get another chance during muzzleloading season to use firearms tags that didn't get filled in November.
Clifford Vest, Springfield
I can verify that coyotes are a threat to family pets. One night we left the garage doors up and the lights on. We later heard a commotion and ran out to see two coyotes in the garage playing tug-of-war with our "best friend," a 25-pound cocker spaniel.
Ruffles kept a firm bite on one coyote's nose, and my husband kicked at the coyotes until they let go and ran out of the garage. Had she not been on a leash, they would have dragged her away. As it was, they didn't hurt her, but the stench was terrible.
Linda Seabaugh, Patton
After reading "Savoring a Family Tradition," which was about a family working together to make sausage, I had some concerns.
First, make sure the hands of the person mixing the ingredients are clean and free of any sores, cuts or other open wounds to reduce the chance of introducing the bacteria Staphylococcus aureas into the product. Staph in sufficient numbers will produce a heat-stable toxin that will cause a very unpleasant foodborne illness.
Second, if the sausage produces any off-odors or gases or displays any discoloration during the fermentation process, it should be discarded.
Third, they might consider cooking the sausage to 155 F for at least 15 seconds after it has hung for the proper amount of time. This cooking process may change the product, but it will make it safer.
Finally, remember that the quality and safety of the sausage depends a lot on how the venison and pork was handled. If these meats were abused and mishandled before the processing began, the end product will not be safe or of good quality.
David Stull, Mo. Department of Health
You produce a fine magazine, but more than once your map of Missouri counties has misspelled the name of Greene County.
William E. Fischer, Gladstone
In "Lunar Lore," the author stated that a blue moon only occurs about every three years, yet in January we had two full moons, and we will again have two full moons in March. Please explain.
Robert Gwinn, Osceola
Editor's Note: A popular source says seven times in 19 years there are 13 full moons in a year, meaning that one month in those years will have two full moons. Because months have different lengths, blue moons move around the calendar. Having two so close together is unusual; the next time it is slated to happen is in 2018, also in the months of January and March. The second full moon in a month has only recently been called a blue moon. The first recorded use of the term with that meaning is around 1940. Before then, a blue moon apparently referred to a moon that appeared blue, a rare occasion resulting from the filtering of the moon's light by an abundance of particles in the atmosphere, such as might occur in the wake of major volcanic eruptions or widespread forest fires.
Q: Our subdivision has a beautiful lake, which we really enjoy but so do a lot of Canada geese. They make such a mess that we can't use our yard. What can we do without hurting the geese?
A: Canada geese are thrilling to see on the wing, but they don't make very good neighbors. Like you, they enjoy short, well kept lawns and wide open spaces near water. It will take some effort to keep them away from your property.
The first step is to stop feeding them and to ask your neighbors to do the same. Then try to discourage the geese by altering habitat around the lake. Let grass grow long near water's edge. Construct short fences (even rope fences a foot off the ground have worked) that make it difficult for geese to walk onto your property. Adding Mylar tape, which is shiny and flutters in the breeze, may help. Harrass or frighten the geese at every opportunity. Repellents, such as methyl anthranilate are effective, but they are expensive and must be reapplied frequently.
If you still have a problem, apply for a federal permit to addle the eggs or coat them with oil to prevent hatching. Applications for permits and instructions are available from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Service. This agency is working with the Conservation Department and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to find solutions for dealing with severe goose problems in which the above methods have failed and public health and safety are jeopardized.
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 <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.
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