Skip to main content

Duck Stamps evidence that good can come from bad

Canvasbacks, by Adam Grimm. Grimm's artwork will grace the newest Duck Stamp

Duck Stamps evidence that good can come from bad

The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday, October 6, 2013

NATURE
Jim McCormac

On May 9, 1934, a dust storm of Armageddon-like magnitude roared through the Great Plains, tossing tons of dirt skyward. The drought- stricken area was in the midst of the Dust Bowl, and its sun-baked soil was swirling aloft in great black clouds.

Chicago, well to the east, was coated with an estimated 6,000 tons of windblown earth.

The human toll from the Dust Bowl was great, and so was the cost to wildlife. Ducks, already hammered by unregulated hunting and wetland losses, were battered by the Dust Bowl. Conservation-minded people became alarmed by the decline in waterfowl populations.

In 1934 — the same year as the epic storm that grimed the Windy City — the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp was launched. It has since become better known as the Duck Stamp.

Purchasing a stamp was — and is — required to hunt waterfowl, but hunters almost universally supported the stamp’s creation even if it was a tax on their sport.

The Duck Stamp is one of the most successful conservation strategies in history. In the 80 years since its inception, the stamp has generated more than $800 million, which has been used to purchase or lease more than 6 million acres of prime habitat — an area larger than New Jersey. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has been a competent manager of Duck Stamp money: 98 cents of every dollar goes to land acquisition.

Habitats purchased by stamp money help ducks, but that’s not all. One-third of federally endangered and threatened plants and animals are supported by Duck Stamp purchases.

Ohioans needn’t travel far to see proof of duck-driven biodiversity. About 89 percent of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge near Toledo was bought with stamp dollars. The refuge harbors ducks galore but also least bitterns, leopard frogs, bronzed copper butterflies, Eastern fox snakes, wild rice and more. It’s also one of the most popular bird-watching locales in the Great Lakes region.

The inaugural Duck Stamp featured a beautiful painting of a pair of mallards by Jay “Ding” Darling, the stamp’s architect. This established the framework of original artworks selected by a jury. The 1934 stamp cost $1; the 2013 stamp, $15. Today, a mint 1934 stamp is worth about $600.

It’s a huge honor for an artist to win the stamp art contest. To date, 59 artists have done so, with only a dozen winning multiple times.

On Sept. 28, Elyria native Adam Grimm entered an artistically rarefied atmosphere when his painting of a pair of canvasbacks was selected for the 81st Duck Stamp. He had won in 2000 at age 21 with his rendering of a mottled duck. Grimm walks the talk: He invested earnings from his art into habitat restoration at the Ottawa refuge.

Anyone interested in nature can also help by buying a stamp. You’ll never spend a better 15 bucks.
For more information, visit www.fws.gov/duck stamps.

Naturalist Jim McCormac writes a column for The Dispatch on the first and third Sundays of the month. He also writes about nature at www.jimmccormac. blogspot.com.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…