Reflections

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DOVES ON THE MOVE

In your May issue you talked about the difference between mourning and turtle doves. As a federal bird banding permittee, I was amazed while visiting in Gradenton, Fla., to see a lighter colored dove with a different call that we identified as a ringed turtle dove.

In Pine Mountain, Ga., we heard the same plaintive calls and saw the singer right on the motel roof. Apparently they had made it that far north.

More knowledgeable birders than myself have calculated that the turtle dove will be the next house sparrow, starling or house finch in our country. No longer restricted to a few parklike settings, the birds are apparently on the move. Won't it be interesting to follow their advance?

August F. Wirkus, Eau Claire, Wisc.

CATS AND BIRDS

Thanks for Joan McKee's important article, "Cats on the Prowl." Many landowners are not aware of the negative impacts that cats can have on local bird and small mammal populations. I understand that the contented creatures curled up on my lap are also very efficient predators. Because I am concerned for both our native wildlife and the health and safety of my pets, my cats stay inside.

Bill Heatherly, Columbia

I have three cats--all are black, quite large, wear collars with bells and tags and are neutered and declawed--that go outside daily. They catch birds! The vast majority are sparrows, but there are occasional doves and a rare bluejay. I postulate that any bird these cats catch is either stupid, over-confident or has slow reflexes, and these are not characteristics one would want to perpetuate in future generations. Isn't this the survival of the fittest in action? And... we don't have a mouse problem!

Jack R. Phillips, DVM, Saint Peters

The author failed to mention that humans are 50 percent responsible for the death of those song birds. If vast numbers of birds were not gathering in one location to feed in a totally artificial environment, they would be less likely to become prey to the neighborhood cats.

I am a responsible cat owner and fully agree about the cat population problem. I cringe when any neighborhood cats walk through my yard. Not because they might bother the birds feeding at the seven feeders in my neighbor's backyard (they never even look at them), but due to the fleas and ticks they may be distributing.

Jetta Heath, Mexico

We have not allowed our cat, Skuttles, to catch any animals. My sister and I watch him on and off when he's outside where we can see him as he tries to catch birds, chipmunks, moles, voles and rabbits. He has learned catching birds is a no-no, but it doesn't keep him from watching them and chasing them. We can tell he's not trying very hard to catch them.

Jean Sutton, Bunker

SQUIRREL PHOTO

About the young man's killing of the beautiful and, I would assume, rare squirrel. Why did he not take a camera and take a picture, leaving the magnificent animals for others to enjoy.

Am I against hunting? Absolutely not! However, I think that some species should be allowed to live so others may enjoy them.

Jeannie Stark, Sweet Springs

EGGS CITED

In the recipe for the traditional lemon sauce for stuffed grape leaves, no mention is made of cooking the eggs. There is danger here from salmonella distress in someone's tummy.

Juanita T. Lowrey, Gladstone

Editor's note: The recipe was prepared in the 1970s, well before health warnings prompted us to cook all eggs--even those to be consumed in liquid form, as in eggnog. To make your stuffed grape leaves modern and safe, the author suggests either heating the egg-lemon mixture in a saucepan over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, or serving them without any sauce. Instead, brush the stuffed leaves with a thin layer of olive oil, which will add a little flavor and a shiny coating to the appetizers.

I AM FISHERWOMAN!

I just got back from Maramec Spring Kid's Day. My mom and dad helped me learn how to fish. Thank you for sponsoring Kid's Day. I caught four fish. One was 14 ounces. He was big. I'm only 8 years old, but I'm a fisherwoman.

My dad has been fishing at Maramec Spring for 32 years. He really liked showing me how to fish. Dad said he would take me again this summer. Thanks again.

Erica Sanazaro, via Internet

Belated praise

I am 86 years old and have taken the magazine for many years and never said a thank you, but I simply had to congratulate all of you for your effort on the May issue--it is so very spectacular!

Keep up the good work. I've enjoyed camping, fishing and hiking in Missouri, and I have four sons who have also enjoyed Missouri's outdoors and magazine.

Helen Weir, Mountain Grove

CARP SANDWICH

I do not like fried fish, and shouldn't eat it anyway, so I take a radical approach to cooking carp. I cut it into pieces and boil it in just enough water to cover for a few minutes. Let the fish cool until you can remove the meat from the bones. You can then use the meat like tuna, except that the flavor is extremely rich and more satisfying.

It's delicious cold in a salad with pasta and mayonnaise or shaped into fistfuls and served topped with the jellied boiling water (use unflavored gelatin) or placed between two pieces of white bread to make a "samidge."

Joseph Fischer, St. Louis

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Why are boat ramps at Conservation Department accesses perpendicular to the current? This makes launching and landing boats very difficult.

A: Launching and landing a boat in swirling current can be a challenge, to say the least. Until about five years ago, a ramp perpendicular to the bank was the standard accepted design. Often, federal regulations affect the design of a ramp.

Ramps facing downstream silt in or are covered with debris with each rise of water, resulting in high maintenance costs. Until they are cleaned with heavy equipment, the ramps may be unusable. We've found ramps angled upstream wash free of silt more readily, and we now are using the upstream design as much as possible on new construction. Boaters still will have to deal with moving water with this design, but in most cases stream current will keep the ramp free of silt. Patience, practice and caution are the key to safely using boat ramps.

If you have questions about Conservation Department accesses or conservation areas or want to report ramps needing maintenance, contact your regional office.

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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