Monday, November 19, 2018

Warbler Habitat to Hardwood Floors
I wanted to share a "neat" story about one of our local Pennsylvania landowners, Mark Ott.  Mark is one of our Pennsylvania Forest Stewards and well as a certified Tree Farmer.  He has been involved with many forestry activities over the years, including the Woodland Owners of Centre County and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative of Pennsylvania.  I recently had a chance to visit Mark's property where he was getting ready to have a section harvested to create habitat for golden-winged warblers. Golden-winged populations have been declining in numbers for quite some time now and have one of the smallest populations of any bird NOT on the endangered species list.  For more information on golden-winged warbler click here.

Mark was able to add an interesting twist to his story, he was able to find a wood products company to make flooring from the trees harvested from his property. To create golden-winged warbler habitat a specific kind of forest condition needs to be created, one with a few mature trees in the overstory and young tree regeneration in the understory.  By using the harvested trees to make hardwood flooring Mark was able to take a little piece of his woodland and incorporate it into his home at the same time he was creating habitat for a declining songbird species, great story.

You can view his story on You Tube.

Steller Flooring: Mark Ott's Inspirational Hardwood Flooring

We are thrilled to be a part of Mark's journey to incorporate trees from his property into his own hardwood floor. Mark harvested the trees earlier this year for a Golden-winged Warbler conservation project in central Pennsylvania, and he's going the extra mile for sustainable land management. Check out our hike, Mark's site, and why he decided on Steller Flooring!
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More information on Golden-winged Warblers:

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Science Behind the Whitetail Rut

I thought I would share another fitting article about deer.  This one is from our local outdoors writer, Mark Nale.  Very appropriate, I was out archery hunting this morning and experienced the rut in full swing.  Just a couple more days to fill your archery tag in the early season, it ends on Monday, November 12th.

By Mark Nale
November 03, 2018

The rut, the mating period for white-tailed deer, is upon us. It is the time of year that bow hunters look forward to, beginning in late October and lasting about a month. The rut signals an increased activity period for bucks as they patrol their scrapes with hormonal hankering in their eyes and search for does with which to breed. For hunters, it means that new bucks might move into the area where they are hunting.

Conversely, it is also possible that bucks that have been scouted and/or patterned earlier in the archery season have broadened their territories and are now looking for does elsewhere. At this time of year, most experts agree that if you find the does and hunt there, the bucks will come.

Although some hunters claim otherwise, the rut in Pennsylvania has little, if anything, to do with the weather or the phases of the moon. According to Quality Deer Management Association biologist, Kip Adams, it has everything to do with photoperiod -- the hours of daylight and darkness within a 24-hour period. The hours of daylight have been getting shorter since June 21.

By summer’s end, those shortening hours trigger the death and hardening of a buck’s antlers, velvet shedding, rubbing, scraping, and sparring activity -- and finally the onset of the rut. The rut is timed appropriately so that most fawns are born during a period with good vegetation for cover and ample food for the lactating does. Although some are born earlier and some later, in Pennsylvania, optimum survival benefits occur for fawns born the last week of May and the first week of June. “The bottom line is northern whitetails have a narrow breeding window to optimize doe and fawn health and survival,” Adams said.

In Pennsylvania, the rut peaks in mid-November so that most fawns are born during the days surrounding June 1. Duane Diefenbach, Leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit stationed at Penn State, recently explored the effect of the pre-rut and rut on deer movement in the popular Deer-Forest Study Blog.

“’In like a lion and out like a lamb,’ is often used to describe March weather. For deer, October could be described as, ‘in like a lamb, and out like a lion,’ with regard to breeding behavior,” Diefenbach stated. “It starts out slow, but by the end of the month things are roaring. At least for males.

“We know that about 20 percent of the females are bred during the last week of October,” Diefenbach wrote. Half are bred by November 13. According to data obtained by tracking radio-collared bucks, Diefenbach noted that buck movement, as measured by their average hourly speed, stayed about the same from mid-September until the rut began the last week of October. Once the rut started, buck activity greatly increased during the day as well as at night. Although bucks do not move much faster, they were found to move during more hours throughout the day.

The same was true for the sizes of their home ranges. Using fall 2017 data from the adult bucks being tracked (all at least 2.5 years old), Diefenbach estimated their weekly home range size. “Beginning in late September the home ranges of these bucks steadily increased -- from about a square mile to almost four square miles,” Diefenbach reported.

Bucks are more active, but what about the does? Pennsylvania research data show that does decrease their movements slightly in October and then they stay about the same even during the rut. The size of their home range also stays about the same throughout the rut as compared with the October pre-rut period.

“During the rut, bucks are looking for females,” Diefenbach wrote in the blog. “If you are a female, you want to be found. The best strategy is to stay put.”

The statewide archery deer season began on September 29, and ends on November 12. The winter archery season runs from December 26 through January 12, 2019.

Mark Nale lives in the Bald Eagle Valley. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association and can be reached at

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Deer and Motorists on the Move at the Same Time

With the days getting shorter and the whitetail rut kicking in motorists are driving to and from work at the same time deer are most active. Collisions between vehicles and wildlife are a big problem. Each year, on average, 1-2 million collisions with large animals, especially deer, end in 200 fatalities, 26,000 injuries, and costs exceeding $1 billion.

Deer see things differently, instead of tracking movement by following objects with their eyes as people do, a deer’s eyes are stationary. This allows deer to detect movement from predators that may be lurking. To a deer, a car heading into its path may only seem like an object that’s increasing in size. Deer also see less detail than humans. And a deer’s keen night vision results from an ability to take in a lot of light, which makes headlights blinding.

Dawn and dusk are active times for many wildlife species, including deer, which is the time when people are traveling to and from work this time of year. Choice deer habitat often overlaps with human travel routes, increasing the likelihood of collisions. In addition, deer movement peaks in the fall — mostly October and November — with the breeding season, called the rut.

The Forest Service produced and award-winning video entitled Avoiding Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions for their employees. The video provides information relevant to anyone who gets behind the wheel at dawn and dusk this time of year. Knowing the risk factors can help inform you how to manage your driving situations to reduce the risk of collisions with wildlife.

Revised from “Think like a deer: award-winning video aims to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions” by Stephanie Worley Firley, Pacific Southwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service

For additional information go to:
PA Game Commission News Release (10-31-18)

Some interesting points: 

  • A driver who hits a deer with vehicle is not required to report the accident to the Game Commission.
  • If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass.
  • Removing antlers from road-killed bucks is illegal.
  • Antlers from bucks killed in vehicle collisions can be purchased for $10 per point.
  • To report a dead deer for removal from state roads call the PA Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.