Warm And Windy

A young Bison in Jester Park, Iowa, June 10, 2017.

The bison at Jester Park were near the fence where I could see them yesterday morning. They weren’t as quick to leave when they noticed me as they have been. The two youngest ones are between 1 1/2 and 2 months old now. They are still curious and exploring.

This morning, the bison were resting most of the time I was there. A goldfinch stopped by to say hello. I sat on one of the rock benches, closed my eyes, and listened to the sounds of a peaceful Sunday morning.

Warm air pushed up from the south at the end of last week. It brought the wind with it. The heat will stay until a cold front storms in from the northwest.

June 10, 2017

A young Bison in Jester Park, Iowa, June 10, 2017.

June 11, 2017

An American goldfinch resting on the electric fence wire in the Bison and Elk Enclosure at Jester Park, Iowa, June 11, 2017.

An American goldfinch resting on the electric fence wire in the Bison and Elk Enclosure at Jester Park, Iowa, June 11, 2017.

Two young bison with an adult bison in Jester Park, Iowa, June 11, 2017.

Take care and thanks for reading.




Here are a few facts about Bison, Elk, and their history in Iowa courtesy of the display in the Bison and Elk Exhibit, Jester Park, Iowa.

1846, Iowa becomes the 29th state, Population of Iowa 192,000

1846, Prairie covers 80% of Iowa, Elk and Bison roam across the state

1870, Population of Iowa 1,194,000

1870, Prairie covers 40% of Iowa, Elk and Bison vanish from the state

1900, Population of Iowa 2,232,000

1900, Prairie covers 5 % of Iowa, Nationally, bison reach near extinction

2000, Population of Iowa, 2,926,000

2000, Prairie covers less than 1% of Iowa and only captive elk and bison remain.

Bison are the largest land mammals in North America

They were nicknamed “Buffalo” by early settlers.

Bull bison (males) weigh 2,000 lbs. and cows (females) weigh 1000 lbs.

They can run 30 mph and pivot quickly.

Both bulls and cows have horns.

Horns have one point and are never shed.

Bison eat prairie grasses, consuming about 25 lbs. a day.

Bison mate in late summer and give birth in the spring to a 60 lbs. calf.

Prior to settlement, 65 million bison roamed North America.

By 1895, fewer than 1000 remained.

Elk are also known as Wapiti meaning “White Rump.”

Bull elk (males) weigh 700 lbs. and cows (females) weigh 500 lbs.

Elk can run 25 mph and jump 6 feet high.

Only bulls grow antlers, totaling up to 40 lbs.

Antlers have many points and are shed yearly.

Elk eat grass and woody vegetation, consuming about 15 lbs. a day.

Elk mate in the fall and give birth in the spring to a 35 lbs. calf.

By 1900, national elk populations were reduced from 10 million to less than 100,000.

Unregulated hunting and habitat loss led to their decline.

Early conservation efforts help elk and bison recover.

The Lacey Act (1894) introduced by Iowa Congressman John Lacey became first federal law protecting wildlife.

It is unlikely elk and bison will ever roam freely again in Iowa.

These small herds remind us of Iowa’s history.


About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and story teller
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19 Responses to Warm And Windy

  1. Shady_Grady says:

    I like the goldfinch picture. I wonder when the young bison change colors?

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Shady 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! The goldfinches are very cheery birds. 🙂

      I haven’t watched a bison grow up through all of the seasons so I don’t know the answer to your question. The one who was young in the fall of 2015 is now about 1/2 the size of the adults with the same shade of fur.

  2. zirah1 says:

    I second Shady’s commit. Also wonder if both youngsters belong to the adult they are next to in that one picture or if that was just a coincidence.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Zirah 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! The goldfinches put me in mind of a burst of sunshine. 🙂

      I think the adult with the two young ones is the mother of at least one of them. I don’t know if they are twins or siblings with a different mother or cousins. From what I have read, bison can have twins, but it is very rare. There are four fully grown bison, two that are noticeably less than full grown, and the two youngest born this spring. Of the four fully grown, there are a male and a female that are clearly older. The male is the biggest of the bison. It is the older female in the photo with the two young ones at the end. They are in an area right now where it is hard to take photos of them because of the way the land rises and falls and the tall grass. There are three field separated by fences and gates. The first and third have pond in them. The third area is the one that is easiest to see. I am hoping the bison will be in that area later. It has a pond for them to cool off in. Right now, they are in the second area without a pond. There is a water trough on the far side. The elk are in the first area.

      • zirah1 says:

        Thanks for all that input. I figured bison could have 2 babies, but that it might be unusual. Do you know how the area ended up w/ all the bison in the first place? Were they sort of roaming locally and brought to the park or “imported” from somewhere else? Same question in regard to the elk. 🙂

        • Sarah says:

          The bison and elk were brought to the park. I would have to look up exactly when. There is a little bit of information about the history of the prairie in Iowa and the bison and the elk on the walkway to the semi-raised platform with the stone benches. If I tried to remember the numbers, I think I would get them wrong. I will consider this to be homework and write down what it says when I visit again likely tomorrow. I will leave another comment. 🙂 From memory, though, in the middle 1800s, at least 80% of Iowa was prairie. There were trees along the water ways. There are quite a few rivers large and small going through or around this state. The interior was prairie for a very long time which is why the soil is so good for growing things. Both elk and bison lived in the prairie here back then. I took some photos of the elk this morning, but I haven’t looked at them yet. One week this summer, there will be a post of their photos. 🙂

  3. birdlady612 says:

    Sounds like a very peaceful place to relax. Great photos. 🙋🐦

    • Sarah says:

      Hi 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! I am happy you liked the photos. 🙂 It is a nice place to relax. There are lots of trees, flowers, and birds. 🙂

  4. Beautiful photographs and writing Sarah 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Hi 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! I am happy you enjoyed the post. 🙂 It was cool and breezy this morning and just as pleasant to be outside. I love the fresh air. It’s a tonic for me. 🙂

  5. Interesting post… great photography, Sarah. The beauty of nature all around, so wonderful to read and be informed… Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Iris 🙂

      Thank you for visiting and your kindness! I am happy you enjoyed the post. 🙂 The little bison are growing. They are gradually losing their rust-colored coat. Hopefully, there will be a follow up post with photos of them as they grow.

      This morning, nature’s gift is a thunderstorm and rain. I woke to the sound of rain on the window and thunderclaps which sounded like they were just outside of the window. The rain is welcome. I was reading an article in the news the other day that areas of the state are nearing drought conditions. The farmed plants (mostly corn and soybeans) don’t have deep roots like the prairie grasses and flowers so they have more trouble with the dry spells.

      I love sitting outside listening to the birdsong and the wind. 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Diane 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! I am happy you enjoyed the photos. 🙂 The little bison are growing up. They lost their rust color coat over the summer. I have taken a few more photos of them at various times this summer and will take some more before it snows. They will get another post dedicated to them in the winter. I think they are adorable. 🙂 I found out during the summer that they aren’t twins. They have different mothers. I don’t know if they have the same father. There is one older adult male and at least two younger males.

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