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Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

Is it a trumpeter or a tundra swan?

July 13, 2010 at 05:05 PM

A story from earlier this summer about mute swans has prompted continued conversation and calls.

Readers have lots to say. That includes Eric Swanson, who sent these two pictures of migrating swans he spotted this spring in Warren County, a few miles southwest of Abingdon.

One of the big birds was sporting a yellow collar.

Illinois hunting and fishing

So are these tundra swans? Or trumpeters?  From my cursory Web research, these look like trumpeter swans to me. But they could be tundra swans. The only thing I can say for sure is that they are not mute swans.

Here’s some identification information from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Click here to read more.

Illinois hunting and fishing

The trumpeter is often confused with the more common tundra swan, the only other native swan found routinely in North America. Tundra swans can be seen in Wisconsin only during spring and fall migration. So how can you tell them apart? Look for the following.

Trumpeter. The trumpeter swan has a deep, loud trumpet-like call.

Tundra. The tundra swan has a high-pitched, quavering call that sounds more like a Canada goose.

Both swans are white with black bills which makes it pretty tough to tell them apart, but there are some differences. If you look at a side view of the two birds, you’ll notice that the tundra swan’s bill is slightly dish-shaped and smaller in proportion to its smoothly rounded head. The bill of the trumpeter looks heavy and somewhat wedge-shaped in proportion to its large, angular head. The best way to tell them apart is by their calls.

There’s another swan that can be confused with the trumpeter and that is the mute swan. This bird is not native to North America. European immigrants brought it to this country. It is found commonly along the East Coast of the United States and in scattered locations in the Midwest. The mute swan is considered to be an undesirable non-native species that harasses native waterfowl (ducks and geese) and uproots large amounts of aquatic vegetation. The mute swan is easily told apart from other swans by its orange bill and the prominent black, fleshy knob extending from the base of its bill to its forehead.


Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Good/bad news about whooping cranes

April 06, 2010 at 07:00 AM

Good news out of Florida is that a group of juvenile whooping cranes which were wintering at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge started their spring migration on Monday, April 5. Nine juveniles joined three other sub-adults and flapped off to Grady County, Ga., according to Eva Szyszkoski of the International Crane Foundation.

Bad news is a new scientific report that claims there are some real problems with the handling of the experimental flock. Click here to read an interesting article on this subject from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

A five-member panel of experts led by Phil Miller of Senior Breeding Specialist Group of Apple Valley, Minn. called out the various groups running the reintroduction for weak financial controls and a lack of scientific oversight. The panel also called into question the use of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin as a home for the whoopers. The report notes that only one crane chick has been born at Necedah and survived since 2001.

The report also notes that the crane program has so far spent nearly $16 million in the past decade to produce 103 whooping cranes that migrate from central Wisconsin to Florida.

To help cut costs, the panel suggests that crane managers “reduce the number of juvenile cranes over the next five years that fly with ultralight aircraft on their first migration to Florida” opting instead to have young cranes follow mature cranes south. While that would save money, it would also cut down on the fund-raising arm of the crane reintroduction.

All in all, it will be interesting to see what changes come from this report, if any. Certainly the issues raised seem valid.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Proof that pelicans eat Asian carp

April 03, 2010 at 03:58 AM

Birdwatchers take the darndest pictures.

The latest proof of that is the shots above and below bu Bill Rudden from Melvin Price Lock and Dam. These are some fairly large Asian carp the pelicans are eating.

Hmm, maybe we could stock pelicans around Lake Michigan to combat the carp.

Click here to see more of Rudden’s pictures.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Story and comments
Illinois Outdoors

Update from Bluebird Herb

July 18, 2008 at 01:39 PM

Bluebird Herb sent me his latest update on nest success by bluebirds in his nest boxes in Peoria County.

Here’s the tale of the tape so far.

  • Nests—118
  • Eggs—490
  • Eggs hatched—378
  • Fledged—277


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Car wash bird thieves

May 20, 2008 at 10:18 AM

Illinois Outdoors

Somehow I’ve never seen this e-mail before, even though it apparently started making the rounds back in 2004. Illinois OutdoorsAnd for a change, there was some truth to the message that accompanied these wild pictures. That’s kind of unusual, but nice. Click here to read the story as sniffed out by Snopes.

As the story goes, a car wash owner in Fredericksburg, Va., was losing money out of his coin machines. So he set up a camera to capture the thieves in action. And here’s what they found.

Illinois Outdoors

The thieving starlings were working together. One would fly in to jimmy coins loose and the other would fly off with the coins.

One detail in the e-mail I received was apparently not true, though. That was the quote that the birds had stockpiled $4,000 in coins nearby. That was never discovered according to Even so, it’s a pretty wild story.

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