April 2004





Woodpeckers can be seen occasionally mistaking the side of a house for a tree. Why is this? And, is there anything homeowners can do to keep the birds from drilling a hole in their homes?

Woodpeckers drill holes in the side of homes for several reasons. Sometimes they are after insects and larvae found in and under the home's siding. Other times woodpeckers are pecking to attract a mate, make a hole for a nesting spot or to establish a territory. There are some effective techniques for discouraging woodpeckers. Bird scare tape or bird scare balloons are two helpful products, and can be purchased at stores that sell bird feed. The DNR also has a packet containing helpful tips and other information for homeowners with woodpecker problems. To obtain a copy, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Woodpecker Packet, Box 25, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, MN 55155.


This week is National Volunteer Week. Each year, thousands of people volunteer their time to help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and other organizations, with a variety of projects. What sort of volunteer opportunities does the DNR offer?

Volunteer opportunities vary across the state from assisting with wildlife research to cleaning rivers to playing Smokey Bear at the State Fair - just to name a few. Right now, the DNR is looking for volunteers to help count loons, conduct nighttime listening surveys of frogs and toads, monitor bluebird trails and plant acorns at selected State Parks, remove buckthorn and sumac on state natural areas, catch and release walleyes on Mille Lacs Lake as part of a hooking mortality study, and help develop a database program for a wood turtle study. All volunteer positions can be found listed on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us or by calling DNR Volunteer Programs at (651) 259-5249 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR. Opportunities are changed on a seasonal basis.

Renee Vail, DNR Volunteer Programs director


A number of OHV trails have been closed due the spring melt. Where can ATV and other OHV enthusiasts ride their machines until the ground dries out enough to reopen those other trails?

There are a number of good options throughout Minnesota that are available and open to OHV riding, not just now but year round. When considering public areas, riders should focus on those places that are located on well-drained sites. The best options for spring and year-round riding are Tri-County site for ATV's, Appleton riding area for ATV's and motorcycles, and the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area, which can accommodate ATV's, motorcycles and trucks. The Iron Range OHV park is located near Gilbert. Another option riders can consider is private land. But before venturing out onto someone else's property, it is imperative that riders get permission. Updates regarding seasonal closures and other trail information can be found on the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Ron Potter, DNR OHV coordinator


Spring is the time when wildlife babies are born. What should people do, if anything, if they find what appears to be an abandoned wildlife baby, or a baby bird that feel out of its nest?

The arrival of spring also means the arrival of newborns and just-hatched wildlife. These youngsters soon venture into the world on shaky legs or fragile wings. All too often, well-meaning people pick up animals, particularly white-tailed deer fawns and young birds, believing that these animals have been orphaned or abandoned and need to be saved. This is almost never the case because the parents are usually waiting nearby. In fact, a would-be rescuer is causing more harm than good to the young animal. Those early unsteady steps and flights are part of normal development, helping the young learn how to care for themselves. So, it's important for people to remember that wild animals belong in the wild.

Lori Naumann, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program


DNR Question of the Week Archive