By MDC | November 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: November 2022

Got a question for Ask MDC? Send it to or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.

Q: What is this species of bird?

The light-blue plumage of this bird indicates it’s a nonbreeding male indigo bunting. When breeding, the upperparts of an adult male are turquoise blue when seen in sunlight; otherwise, they appear dark blue.

These birds forage for insects, berries, and seeds, such as the seeds on this sorghum stalk. Plants in the aster family — such as thistles, goldenrods, and dandelions — also provide many of the small seeds indigo buntings like to eat. Hedgerows and woodland edges are common habitats for this species, and they are often seen flying up from gravel roads and walking trails. Indigo buntings migrate from where they overwinter in the tropics to breed here during summer months. For more information about this species, visit

Q: Last fall, we were fishing the Red Ribbon Area of Meramec River and only saw minnows. It was a warm, clear day and we could see the bottom of the deep holes. We are all experienced fishermen, and so it is unlikely we simply missed them. Would the trout migrate elsewhere? Were they all caught? We expected trout to bulk up for winter. The day’s lack of action surprised us. I’m curious if an expert might solve this puzzle?

The Meramec Red Ribbon Trout Area’s trout population is managed through stockings. Little to no natural reproduction occurs. Brown trout are typically stocked several times in the fall and winter; the most recent stocking was in January.

With changes in weather patterns, the water temperatures in this section of the Meramec can get too warm to support trout during periods of high summer runoff, and the number of trout surviving after stocking have been suffering for several years.

Rainbow trout in the Red Ribbon Area are escapees from the Maramec Spring Branch, and their numbers are lower as well. MDC sampled this section in 2021 and found high numbers of native species like smallmouth bass and suckers, but relatively low numbers of rainbow and brown trout. Our population estimates were 20 brown trout per mile and 70 rainbow trout per mile. Although they are present, these are relatively low populations compared to past decades.

Fall can be a good time to be on the river, but the clear water can make for wary fish. The brown trout are also attempting to spawn this time of year, which might make them less interested in feeding. Some anglers have reported good fishing experiences during murkier water conditions in the spring, which might be something to consider. Recent telemetry studies indicate several fates after stocking. Some do survive; however, others are consumed by natural predators, harvested by anglers, die in flood events, perish in warm water, or can’t make the switch from captivity to surviving in the wild.

The area will be stocked with brown trout as soon as schedules allow this fall, and then one to three times more before March.

Q: Do you know what might have caused the green-dyed coloration in this decaying piece of wood?

This could be the mycelium of a type of fungus called Chlorociboria. It likes to grow on dead or decaying logs of both hardwoods and conifers. Although the little bluish-green cup fungi are not often seen, the green-stained wood is prized by woodworkers, including craftsmen of the Italian Renaissance who used it to fashion beautiful inlays. For more information, visit


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Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
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