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From Missouri Conservationist: May 2005


In addition to my three birdfeeders and four suet hangers, I have a mockingbird feeding station, which is nothing more than a covered platform on which I place chopped apples and raisins.

I started this years ago, and the only time the mocker is aggressive to other birds is when he’s waiting for his mate to arrive. Then I have to double the rations.

He earns his keep by chasing off starlings and blackbirds.

I might add that I whistle for him when I set the food out. If he’s within earshot, he usually comes to see what I’ve put out for him.

Geri Balanag, St. Louis

A simpler fix for the couple who captured a mockingbird and relocated it to the country would have been to hang a rubber snake in the area the bird was perching.

Birds are terrified of snakes. I have seen a single rubber snak e keep birds out of an entire apple tree. This solution wouldn’t have harmed the bird or broken any laws.

Sandra B. Leonard, DVM, CVA

Editor’s note: Northern Mockingbirds, along with all other native, non-game birds, are protected by state and federal laws prohibiting trapping, shooting or any other intentional harassment without a special permit. There are many effective, non-lethal, legal solutions for dealing with problem birds. For some other options, visit <> or <>, or contact your local Conservation Department office for assistance.


In your “Myths from the Deep” article you stated that NRCS provides 75 percent cost-share in building a pond using federal monies. This is incorrect.

The Soil and Water Conservation Districts of the State are the ones that fund these projects, if there is active gully erosion, through the use of the Soils and Parks Tax. The districts may pay up to 75 percent of the county-average cost in the construction of these structures.

To my knowledge, NRCS is not allowed to build any pond structure using federal funds, although it may provide technical assistance.

Diana Mayfield, Gasconade County SWCD


Conservation Department Urban Forester Ann Koenig wrote the article “Tree Planting Breakthrough!” in our April issue. An editing error resulted in our crediting the wrong person for the article. Ann lives in Columbia with her husband and two young sons. She has worked as a Conservation Department forester for eight years. Granddaughter of a stave mill owner, great niece of a WWII naturalist, and daughter-in-law to owners of a Century Farm, she has strong ties to conservation.


I’d like to add a poison ivy remedy that my grandfather taught me when I was five years old.

Wash the exposed area with straight apple vinegar, or you can dab the area with a cloth soaked in vinegar. It kills the oil and doesn’t spread it around. I carry a plastic bottle of vinegar with arag in it. I’m 58 and have been in a lot of poison ivy, but I haven’t had a rash and blisters since I was five.

Gary Sparks, Tarkio

One method of controlling poison ivy not mentioned in your article is goats.

When we first bought our land in 1979, poison ivy completely covered a small valley. After a few years of goat browsing (they love poison ivy), the valley is completely clear of it.

I never had a rash from milking them.

Incidentally, the goats are also great for clearing multiflora rose.

Penny Kujawinski, Harrisburg


I no longer hunt, as I will be 90 this August, but I hunted small game when there was no conservation.

I think creating the Conservation Department is the greatest thing Missouri has done, and the magazine is the greatest free book anyone could care to read.

Everett Benoit, Wentzville


I’d like to remind people to please slow down when they see hawks on the road. These beautiful birds of prey eat roadkill, but because of their size and weight cannot take off quicker than you can hit them.

This goes for other animals, too. Slowing down saves lives—all kinds.

June Kreyling, Dittmer

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: I have a large pin oak tree in my front yard and when it has acorns it attracts chipmunks. I notice their burrows, but I don’t see any dirt. What do they do with the dirt they’ve dug from the burrows?

A: Chipmunks scatter the dirt after pushing it outside with their nose and front feet or carrying it out in their cheek pouches, according to Charles and Elizabeth Schwartz’s About Mammals and How They Live and The Wild Mammals of Missouri. Chipmunks may just prefer to keep a clean house, or the practice might help prevent detection by predators.

Burrowing chipmunks can damage lawns or gardens. To learn more about chipmunks and how to control them, visit the MDC website.

About Mammals and How They Live is available from the Conservation Department Nature Shop or, toll-free, (877) 521-8632 for VISA or MasterCard orders. The Wild Mammals of Missouri is available from University of Missouri Press, 2910 LeMone Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201, (573) 882-3000.

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) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <>.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - TomCwynar
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Editor - Ara Clark
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Circulation - Laura Scheuler