For several weeks I have neglected to mention that this year’s duck stamp has been issued, and is available for you to buy. The $25 price is an excellent investment in bird conservation. Stamp money is used to buy and develop our National Wildlife Refuges. 


Officially known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, all waterfowl hunters must by law have a current stamp in addition to any licenses required. Please don’t let hunting give you any second thoughts. Hunting organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, and Pheasants Forever work hard to create and preserve hunting habitat. They know that no habitat means no waterfowl/pheasants means no hunting.


Wildlife refuges serve hundreds of species of wildlife with the birds we watch at or near the top of the list. More species of songbirds use the refuges for breeding or as migration rest stops than do species of ducks.


No habitat means no birds means, well, it means no birds. Habitat loss is the biggest problem bird populations face. Your $25 makes a difference. Find the stamp at a post office or major outdoor-gear store.




What put me back on the duck-stamp trail is announcement that competition for 2017 duck stamp art will take place in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Sept. 15 and 16. Dozens of paintings competing to be on the face of next year’s stamp will be on display both days. Judging begins at 10 a.m. on the 16th. 


The duck species from which artists can choose are Mallard, Gadwall, Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal, and Harlequin Duck. Different species are chosen each year. 


I’ve attended the event. Watching the selection process, as judges vote to reduce submissions to a winner, is entertaining and fun. The artwork varies considerably. Pay particular attention to entries from Minnesotans Jim, Robert, and Joe Hautman. Together they have won 11 of the past 27 contests. Well, you won’t see work from Jim Hautman because he won last year, and winners must sit out one year. His winning painting was of Canada Goose. Joe won in 2015. Brother Robert last won in 2001. You could say he is due.

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A brief aside on tree frogs