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A bluebird landing. / Gary Engberg/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com

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This spring, Iíve talked about the roller-coaster ride that weíve been on with fronts and cold weather coming through every week. This weekend, I planned to stay close to my Wisconsin River Valley home and catch up on the many things that I must do every spring like mow the lawn, trim trees, pull weeds, stack firewood, clean hummingbird and oriole feeders, repair a deck, and many more 'jobs and projects' that a rural homeowner must complete.

The last week or so I've witnessed a tremendous growth spurt in foliage and the emergence of perennials. The morel and wild asparagus seasons are finally happening and the sun, warm temperatures, and precipitation will keep them producing for another week or two. The lilacs, honeysuckle, and apple trees are flowering with some in full bloom. Salad greens, spinach, and radishes are popping up in the garden.

The summer birds have returned with orioles, bluebirds, hummingbirds, yellow finches, cedar wax-wings and red-breasted grosbeaks arriving in large numbers. If youíre a birder, make sure that you clean and wash out your feeders.

The birds are still devouring bird food, so nesting time is here with parents constantly bring food back and forth to their young. Though birds can easily survive this time of year, I find joy in feeding the many species that arrive each summer. The birdís songs add a melodic and serene feeling even if youíre outside pulling weeds or planting your garden. Now, it seems that most of the mating and nesting birds get along or at least tolerate each other. The squirrel population is thriving and eating as much bird food as they possibly can.

More on birding: Birding news from around the state | Browse birding photos | Share your shots

The same pair of mallards has returned to my yard with a brood of six ducklings. The ducklings follow their waddling parents around the yard looking for waste sunflower seeds and anything else they can find to eat. There also are two pairs of Canadian geese with goslings that visit me every day to see what there is to eat.

While raking my shoreline this weekend, I saw an eagle and an osprey soaring above the Wisconsin River. I hope that the eagle was from the pair that has been nesting downriver near Ferry Bluff and producing a few eaglets every year.

My land is just across the highway from Wisconsin DNR (Mazomanie and Black Hawk Wildlife units) land and with the last season of turkey hunting ending this Wednesday, it is a great place for hiking, walking, viewing the abundant wildlife and fantastic fauna and flora, and outdoor photography. Most days, its possible to see sandhill cranes with their young, turkeys with poults and soon deer will be having their fawns. The wonderful thing is that most of this wildlife can easily be seen while taking a short hike on the abundant public grounds.

There are thousands and thousands of acres of DNR land that is available for everyone to enjoy in many diverse ways. Go to the DNR website (http://dnr.wi.gov) for maps and descriptions of the stateís numerous public lands in Wisconsin.

Wildlife is doing very well in southern Wisconsin and in my own little world. I'm located only 140 miles or 2 Ĺ hours from the suburbs of Chicago and 100 miles from Milwaukee, much of the beauty of Wisconsin is at your fingertips in this area and less than a tank-full of gas away.

Another thing that I noticed recently is the increased number of people using the Wisconsin River for a variety of outdoor activities like; canoeing, kayaking, floating in tubes and, yes, fishing, too! The last few springs and summers have not been the best for river use with bad weather and low water levels, but the Lower Wisconsin Riverway is being enjoyed by more people this year.

This is also a great time for fishing the Wisconsin River. The smallmouth are active and going on their beds, the walleyes are recovering from the rigors of spawning and are hungry, and the white bass are chasing river shiners and shad up and down the river.

The fishing is very good with action from many different species. Expect to catch walleyes, saugers, smallmouth, white bass, catfish, pike, panfish, rough fish and even the occasional muskie! The current flow is at a navigable level making boating, canoeing, and fishing much easier than when the rock bars are exposed and outboard motors must be trimmed up for travel.

The next month or so is one of the best times of the year to actively enjoy the numerous outdoor activities on the Wisconsin Rivers. Try to get out and experience the outdoor splendor of this area and take advantage of the large number of public lands that are available for you to enjoy. Everything that you could possibly want and need is here.

If you have questions, feel free to contact me at my website, www.garyengbergoutdoors.com. Iíll gladly steer you in the right direction.

Gary Engberg is a professional tournament angler, fishing guide, and writer. He began fishing tournaments in the early 1990ís and has fished the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT), North American Walleye Association (NAWA), Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), World Walleye Association (WWA), FLW, and Mercury Nationals in the years since. Gary has hosted the Outdoor Horizons radio show weekly for 14 years in Madison on WTDY 1670 AM and WTDY 106.7 FM Saturdays at 8:05 am. and is also a correspondent for the Wisconsin State Journal for the last 12 years. Visit http://www.garyengbergoutdoors.com for more from Gary Engberg.

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