Attracting Iowa Wildlife On Private Lands
Iowa Wildlife Needs • 98 percent of Iowa is privately owned. • Wildlife depend on private landowners for habitat needs. • Remember the basics:food, cover, & water.
Backyard Birds • More than 362 species; songbirds largest group. • Beneficial management practices: grasses & forbs;nesting structures & homes; trees & shrubs. • Food: Use a variety of feeders to attract a variety of species.
Backyard Birds • Cover: needed for escape, roosting, nesting and brood rearing. -Trees, shrubs, grasses-Birdhouses • Water: needed for bathing, drinking and regulating body temperature. • Small pool with shallow edge • Birdbath and/or fountain
Cottontail Rabbit • Cottontails are found statewide-from farms to suburbia. • Cottontails spend entire life within 2 to 10 acres. All habitat needs must be met within this small area. • Beneficial management practices: brush piles; food plots; grasses & forbs; strip/light disking; timber management; trees & shrubs.
Cottontail Rabbit • Nesting Habitat: idle grassy areas, hayfields, fence lines or brushy areas. • Mixture of undisturbed cool or warm season grasses, forbs, shrubs. • Drinking water not required. Diet provides daily water needs. • Winter habitat: critical season for rabbits. • Must spend more time searching for food. • Highly visible to predators. • Feathered edge management practice provides best winter cover.
Ducks & Geese • Each spring and fall millions ducks, geese and swans migrate through Iowa. • More than 30 species of ducks, geese and swans call Iowa home during part of year. • Nearly 35,000 waterfowl hunters harvest 150,000 ducks and 75,000 geese each year
Ducks & Geese • Beneficial management practices: food plots; grasses & forbs; nesting structures & homes; wetlands. • Habitat Requirements: • Need both wetland and grassland. • Nesting ducks benefit from idle grasslands, protected from haying and grazing from May until July. • Wood ducks only species needing mature trees for nesting.
Ducks & Geese • Habitat Requirements (cont.) • Canada geese and trumpeter swans nest on island-like structures over the water. • Green browse and grain food plots next to wetlands are important food for migrating waterfowl. • Wetlands drawn drown in summer and regrown with annual weeds & flooded grain food plots provide excellent food for all waterfowl.
Eastern Wild Turkey • Iowa’s wild turkey population estimated at more than 100,000 birds. • Turkeys thrive in mature oak-hickory forests native to this region. • Beneficial management practices include: food plots; timber management, trees and shrubs.
Eastern Wild Turkey • Nesting Habitat: hens select nest sites in a variety of cover types but favor woodland edges near field openings. • Poults need abundant insect populations for feeding, foraging habitat and protective cover. • Fall/Winter Habitat: two keys are food and roosting habitats. • During fall food is crucial as birds build fat deposits for winter survival. • Favorite turkey roosting sites include clumps of large pines and trees like those found in mature oak-hickory forest.
Furbearers • Iowa is home to 15 common furbearing species. • Spotted skunk, river otter and bobcat are considered rare and are protected. • Timbered river and stream valley corridors are the most important habitats for opossum, woodchuck, coyote, gray fox and bobcat. • Other beneficial management practices: food plots, grasses & forbs, timber management, trees & shrubs.
Nongame Wildlife • More than 400 (80 percent) of Iowa animal species are nongame wildlife. • A management plan with thewidest range of plantings and structures will attract the greatest variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and bats. • Beneficial management practices: grasses & forbs; farm ponds; nesting structures & homes, wetlands.
Northern Bobwhite Quail • Historically, bobwhite were found across much of the state—now they are found only in southern Iowa. • Bobwhite prefer brushy-shrubby areas interspersed with small (20 to 80 acre) farm fields and pasture/hayland. • Most live on less than 100 acres. • Beneficial management practices: brush piles; food plots; grasses & forbs; pasture mgt., strip/light disking; timber mgt.; trees & shrubs.
Northern Bobwhite Quail • Mixture of crop fields, pastures, meadows and woodland edges make up quality quail habitat. • Nesting habitat: nests are usually found in sparse vegetation. • Hens prefer moderately grazed pastures, native grasses with forbs, idle areas, weedy food plots and brushy fences and hedgerows. Hens only need one clump of grass every 15 steps. • Winter habitat:Quail seldom range more than one-quarter mile in winter so loafing, roosting and food must be in close proximity to each other.
Ring-necked Pheasant • Most important game birdin Iowa with a population of up to 6 million. • Population peaked in 1940 at 500/square mile. Lack of safe nesting habitat lead to a drop to less than 15/square mile. • Beneficial management practices: food plots, grasses & forbs, trees & shrubs and wetlands.
Ring-necked Pheasant • Nesting habitat: Hens conceal nests in erect, undisturbed grassy vegetation at least 8 to 10 inches tall. • Research shows nests in blocks of habitat greater than 40 acres have a higher chance of hatching. • Fast growth rate requires a high protein diet of insects for chicks. • Winter habitat:pheasants prefer tall, grassy habitats for roosting at night and shrubby/brushy habitats for loafing during the day. • Corn/sorghum food plots are very important.
Ruffed Grouse • Ruffed grouse were found nearly statewide during the mid-19th century, but by 1930 they were restricted to northeast Iowa. • Ruffed grouse is a ground-dwelling, native forest game bird that lives in young deciduous and mixed woodlands. • Beneficial management practices: food plots; timber management; trees & shrubs.
Ruffed Grouse • Nesting habitat: nests are usually situated at the base of a solid object like a tree or stump. • Best sites provide hens a good view of immediate surroundings and a ready escape from predators. • Winter habitat: ideal habitat is dense brushy or shrubby vegetation that provide insulation and cover at least 15 feet tall. • In much of Iowa, red cedar provide thick cover for wintering grouse.
Whitetail Deer • Deer occur in every county, with highest densities in southern third and northeast corner of Iowa. • Areas with the largest amount of timber have the biggest deer populations. • Good deer habitat will support up to 25 deer/square mile. • Beneficial management practices include: food plots; grasses & forbs; timber management; trees & shrubs
Whitetail Deer • Habitat requirements: annual home range varies from one-half to one square mile according to suitable habitat, food and water • Does seek seclusion for fawning in brushy fields, heavily vegetated stream bottoms, forest edges, pastures, CRP fields and grasslands. • Standing corn is used for food, travel and escape cover in the fall. • In winter deer concentrate in heavy timber, cattails, tall weeds and brush. • Feathering back timber edges is very beneficial for fawning and wintering deer.
Habitat Practices • Brushpiles:mound of material with a maze of cavities that provide protection from weather or predators. • Prescribed Burning: uses planned fires to nurture plants, harm others and fertilize with a quick release of nutrients.
Habitat Practices • Farm Ponds:best ponds have about 20 acres of watershed for each acre of surface area. Ponds have multiple uses from recreation to livestock watering.
Habitat Practices • Food plots: can be single grain or a diverse mixture to attract a variety of game and non-game species. Location is a key consideration when planning a food plot.
Habitat Practices • Grasses & Forbs: most of Iowa’s songbirds, gamebirds and mammals require diverse grassland habitats. • Legumes: provide direct food value through seeds or through the insects they harbor.
Habitat Practices • Mowing/Haying:Targeted mowing, after Aug. 1, allows species to efficiently use habitat. • Nesting Structures & Homes:providing additional home and nesting sites is very important for waterfowl and some nongame species.
Habitat Practices • Pasture Management: the most critical elements are extent and timing of grazing and pasture vegetation or forage. Pastures grazed below 6 inches are detrimental to nesting wildlife.
Habitat Practices • Strip/Light Disking: provides additional bare ground for dusting and brood rearing. It is most often used along timber edges or large tracts of grassland.
Habitat Practices • Timber Management: activities beneficial to wildlife include timber harvesting, thinning, creating or improving woodland corridors and using human-made habitat structures.
Habitat Practices • Trees & Shrubs: provide excellent wildlife benefits year round for a variety of wildlife. This practice includes shelterbelts and riparian buffers. • Wetlands:a simple way to enhance a wetland for wildlife is to provide nest structures for wildlife.
Help for Establishing Habitat • USDA Programs • Wetland Reserve Program • Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program • Environmental Quality Incentives Program • Conservation Reserve Program • Continuous Conservation Reserve Program • Conservation Technical Assistance • Iowa DNR • IDNR Shelterbelts • Forestry Programs
Help for Establishing Habitat • Fish and Wildlife Service • Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program • Private Organizations • Pheasants Forever • Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation • Ducks Unlimited • National Wild Turkey Federation