When Critters Do "The Shuffle"?

Sep 13, 2016

The chill in the air and the traces of color on the trees are sure signs of fall, and so are the large number of raccoons and possums you see along the roadsides. Wild animals all over Iowa are doing the "fall shuffle," and among these animals are the more than three hundred species of birds that can be seen flying across the state.

“A lot of the northern species are down in our area, or have already moved through," says Iowa State University Wildlife Biologist Jim Pease.

They all have similar reasons for heading south towards sunnier skies.

“It’s the changing day length. That’s the primary signal,” says Pease, naming changing food resources and turbulent weather patterns as other signals. One species of bird, however, may no longer be a useful marker of the changing season.

“Canada geese used to be a signal of the coming fall,” explains Pease. “Canadas are nesting here in the state year-round, especially in urban areas, where there are ponds and pools that are kept open artificially with aerators.”

In this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Pease and  Iowa State University Extension Wildlife Biologist Adam Jahnke about fall migration and other preparations that our wild neighbors make for winter, as well as how this movement can bring us into contact and occasional conflict with them.