Of Men and Marshes by Paul Lester Errington

By Paul Lester Errington

Paul Errington's milestone publication, with a brand new Foreword for this printing, stresses the fundamental influence of wetlands at the welfare of people. Over 7,000 copies of of fellows and Marshes, the vintage on marsh appreciation, were bought, and it is all nonetheless actual, all nonetheless correct this present day.

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Perhaps the marshes of northeastern South Dakota have so noticeably greater a variety of marsh birds than do central and northern Iowa marshes largely because of their location deep in extensive marshland areas. On a marsh-by-marsh basis, northeastern South Dakota would not seem to offer perceptibly better environment to, let us say, nesting pintails than places that offer similar water, vegetation, and terrain in Iowa; but, to the pintails, Iowa is edgeof-range, and northeastern South Dakota is in the midst of favored nesting grounds.

The ducks are gone except for the stragglers and the ailing and those remaining to nest. Red-winged blackbirds have established their almost-measured territories along the rushy shores; the yellowheads, their territories in the central reed clumps. In between, both blackbird species may live where there is room for them, sometimes one species dominating, sometimes the other, in very similar environment. Nesting terns dive at one's head. The breeding-season calls-of blackbirds, rails, coots, grebes, sparrows, shore birds, and other good advertisers-join together.

Ditches are machine-cut to depths of fifteen feet or more through one glacial knoll after another, and, in these ditches, capacious tiles are laid and covered up so that soon all looks as before except that the marshes are gone. Nor, in areas having electric power and big pumps to take out the water, do the drainers even have to show the deference to gravitation that they once did. Of course drainage, as a work of man, does not have complete permanence. Despite technology, there are ditches and tiles that 4 of glacial marshes and time may become so choked that, if man does not actively interfere, drained lands may again become marshes.

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