Fowl Food - Winter 2007


ehddeer.jpgBucks may go into a second or third rut if there are still does around that were not bred in November. Find the does and you'll find the bucks.

Weed beds are natural food plots for waterfowl
By Mike Morton

Under current agricultural views, a weed is any plant growing in a place where it is not wanted. However, weeds represent some of the most nutritious, dependable and sustaining waterfowl foods in our wetland systems. You can see these plants anywhere in the state that the right soils, hydrology and seed bank exist. More species of wildlife depend on these native plants than the cultivated varieties of row crops across the state.

So don’t count these weeds out. Many species of wildlife and waterfowl depend on them all year long.

Bidden are late season bloomers of deep yellow. They are common in moist areas and moist woodlands. Sportsmen may dislike this plant because its seeds stick in their clothes. But bidden seeds are highly sought after by waterfowl, especially when their growing sites flood.

Umbrella sedge is highly desirable by some species of waterfowl for its seed and vegetative mass, as well as the plant structure used by invertebrates in flooded areas. These plants are indicators of some of the wettest site conditions.

Barnyard grass millet is the meat and potatoes of the waterfowl foods. These plants are robust, productive and dependable late season food producers. Many species of waterfowl feed on different parts of the plant. Some eat the seed, some the leaves, some the roots and most on the insect life that lives on the stems when these plants are flooded.

Smartweed is highly prized by waterfowl. Many varieties of this plant exist in the state - they are indicators of moist, late season conditions. The seed of this plant is one of the most nutritious on the landscape and the plant structure and leaf mass produce a large volume of invertebrate larvae when they are flooded. Their late summer blooms of white, pink and even pale red are indicators of food for wildlife that depends on wetlands later in the year.

Foxtail millet is a dependable seed producer, even in late or dry years. It can live on a variety of sites and hydrology.