Friday, January 7, 2011

January Notes

The lack of snow this winter and the fluctuating temperatures create frost heaves on the roads and on many woodland trails. Deer and turkey find a plentiful supply of acorns in the snowless woods. Farther north moose search for the coolest places in the forest near their favorite winter food, balsam fir.

Ruffed grouse roost in thick boughs of hemlock trees. Beaver feed under the ice on their favorite cached food - alder, birch, and aspen twigs; on warm days they emerge to gnaw and fell nearby saplings. Chickadees are busy all day foraging for seeds and insect larvae. Woodland mice take shelter in wood piles, sheds, stowed lawn mowers, and cabins.

Three fat gray squirrels chase each other up the black gum tree in our yard; soon thereafter a red squirrel chases a gray squirrel down the same tree.  Mourning doves fluff their feathers against the cold. Meadow vole snow tunnels have melted away, leaving the small rodent exposed to the sharp eyes of hawks and owls and the quick pounce of a fox. Chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches take turns coming to the feeder.

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