Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

September 1892. Oologist 9(9): 210-211.

A Tramp Through Woods and Marshes in Western Iowa.

I awoke at 6:20 on the morning of the 15th of last May and after breakfasting took my collecting box, climbers and wading boots, and started after Geo. W.S., who was to accompany me. He took a 22 rifle and wading boots and we started out.

After a ride of about four miles on the electric cars and a walk of two more (which was through a marsh) we reached a saw mill on the bank of the Missouri River. There we met my friend, Ike Hamilton, a young logger and miller who was to accompany us on our trip. We were rowed over the river (then about a mile wide on account of spring rise) into Iowa.

We first went to a Broad-winged Hawk's nest which I had seen building or rebuilding a crow's nest two weeks before. When I started up the tree we could hear the Hawks screaming and thought a nice set of eggs was awaiting me at the top, but we were disappointed, as the nest was just finished and no eggs yet deposited.

We started north through the trees, our destination being Lee's woods about nine miles away. We did not find anything except a crow's nest with five young in, on our way up. After about three miles bad walking through sloughs and woods, we reached the Pigeon Creek which can usually be cleared at a bound, but which was then so swollen by recent rains that it was about 25ft. wide and 15ft. deep in the middle.

Our woodman companion or logger as I called him before proposed rafting over, and as there were plenty of logs at hand we started to do it. We peeled a lot of willow bark from trees near by and after tying two logs we rolled the logs into the water. We took three and pulled them side by side and tied one log across. After tying two long willow withes, end to end, we fastened this improvised rope to the raft, so that we could pull the raft back after one had crossed on it.

Ike got on the raft and poled over and I then pulled the raft back for Geo. to go over. Geo. stepped upon the already shaky raft and it went to pieces, George making the quickest move and jump in ten years. (He does not often move quick being 5ft. 5in. tall and weighing 1921bs.)

Well, there we were; one of our party on one side of the Pigeon and George and myself on the other. We started down the stream to find a place to wade but reached the Missouri river and no ford.

Ike started up the river bank after a boat to take us across the Pigeon but returned in about an hour having found two boats but no oars. He had found out however, that there was a bridge over the creek about three miles up the stream so up we started.

On the way up to the bridge George shot several large Gar, and I killed one weighing about eight pounds with a climbing iron.

We finally arrived at the bridge and found Ike awaiting us as he had taken a short cut through the woods and thus had reached there first.

It was then 3 o'clock p. m., and we were still four miles from our objective point which was a heronry four miles north of Honey Creek Lake, Ia.

Our tea bottles were long since exhausted and we were drinking miserable slough water, as we were very thirsty, but we soon reached a log cabin where a benevolent old lady gave us some river water to drink. That river water was nectar to us although it was so muddy you could almost cut it with a knife.

After resting a while we started again and in about an hour reached the Buoy Creek where we met an old German fisherman who was about to start down the river to where we came from. We bribed him to wait for us until we returned and then started on our tramp to the Heronry which we soon reached.

Only a few tall trees were occupied by the Great Blue Herons, but those few counted, as we saw thirteen nests in one tree and less numbers in the rest, in all about fifty nests.

Being very tired myself, I tried to bribe Ike to climb up to a nest which was about 70ft. up but he said he was very comfortable where he was, so up I started. After a hard climb I reach the nest and found it to contain five large blue eggs. Encouraged by this, I put my hand into another nest but took it out very quickly, (a young Heron tried to swallow my finger.) I took several sets of eggs but many nests were already occupied by young birds.

The first set I found had no doubt been left when fresh as they were cold and as a dead female Heron was lying under the tree no doubt that she had been shot by someone who happened along.

While I was packing our treasures in the box, George shot a Turkey Vulture, a number of which were flying high in the air above the Heronry.

I did not know that the Buzzard bred this far north and west and so I was greatly surprised to find three nests, one in a hollow log and two others in hollow trees near by.

After packing the Buzzards' nests we started back to where we had left the fisherman, stopping only to pick a good mess of Mushrooms which we found very plentiful near the water.

After a ride in the boat of an hour and a walk of another hour we reached the motorline and sped home as fast as electricity could carry us.

I afterwards took three eggs from Broad-winged Hawk's nest mentioned.

  • Isador S. Trostler,
  • Omaha, Neb.