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From Missouri Conservationist: Feb 2012

Cape Girardeau Native-Plant Seminars

The Cape Girardeau County Master Gardeners will host native plant seminars at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Campus Nature Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 3. Dave Tylka, author of Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People will be the featured speaker. Participants will have the opportunity to buy native landscaping plants from Grow Native! vendors. Registration is free and begins Feb. 1. Early registration is recommended. For more information call 573-290-5218.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Why do crows flock together to attack other birds such as owls and hawks?

A: There is some debate over the function of “mobbing,” which is the term for the bird behavior you described. It is anti-predator behavior and may serve to: divert a predator from an area where there are fledgling crows, train young crows to recognize predators, or alert other crows to the presence of the predator. Crows are known to mob various hawks, vultures, bald eagles, owls and ravens. The fact that the predator does not usually turn on the mobbing crows may indicate that surprise is an essential element in the hunting method of predatory birds. Crows will also mob raccoons, squirrels, foxes, domestic cats and humans.

Q: I live in St. Charles County, which is bordered by the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and dissected by major highways with 3-foot-tall barricades down the medians. Have there been any studies of the effects of these unintentional fences on wildlife distribution in the county?

A: Movement barriers are an important component of the effects of urban sprawl on wildlife populations. Safety considerations often dictate that median barriers be used to limit head-on collisions on high-speed roadways where median widths are narrow. I don’t know of any research specific to St. Charles County, but there have been studies elsewhere of ways to accommodate wildlife movement. In the western U.S. and Canada, traditional migration corridors for large mammals are logical locations for constructing safe wildlife crossing points. Soil- and vegetation-covered overpasses and underpasses have been built in Europe and Canada to provide safe crossing points. Smaller-scale, culvert-like crossing sites have been installed under roadways in the U.S. for turtles and small mammals, and these often include some type of funnel to direct animals to the crossing. In Missouri, wildlife may cross roadways almost anywhere and would have to be funneled into safe crossing points—and these funnels could be quite extensive. As you would expect, it is a matter of the cost of construction versus other demands for spending public funds.

cartoon 02-2012

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler