Snow and Cold - UPDATE December 28, 2018

Snow (11 inches) and plummeting temperatures (now -7°F) changed scenery and behaviors and showed me something new.ChickadeeChickadee

Chickadees were hungry. The snow hampered the search for wild food and drove a need for calories. For the first time this fall and winter, I offered a handful of food and had 8 takers within a minute. I didn’t know there were that many willing chickadees in the flock. One after another landed. Some landed and took off without a seed at first. I suspect they were first-timers. Others took their time to select the right seed or several seeds. I didn’t stand there long. It was chilly and I wanted to feed all the birds.

Flying squirrelFlying squirrelLast night, a flying squirrel came to the same exact spot where it had found seeds the night before and confidently burrowed down through the snow to pay dirt. It left for a few minutes for reasons unknown, giving me a chance to put a pile where it didn’t require the squirrel to do so much work. The squirrel came back to its digs but eventually noticed the big pile and went for the mother lode. I don’t blame the squirrel for wanting to move. The first place was where snow was blowing making it stop eating where Flying squirrelFlying squirrelit was to take refuge from the wind and snow that was blowing snow flakes onto its eyes. The bulbous eyes of these little squirrels may be ideal for keeping an outlook for danger in the dark, but they are not as good as human eyes for keeping snow out of them. The squirrel looked like it was apprehensive as it dug in the snow with its body exposed and its head down in the hole making noise by digging. It popped up every few seconds to check its surroundings. I felt honored that it seemed to be looking for owls and foxes with little attention to me. I didn’t know these squirrels can remember exactly where food was/is and burrow down into the snow for it.Flying squirrelFlying squirrel

I have two favorite minks. The usual one with the clear chin patch, and the one with two stripes on the patch. Stripe, as I’ve come to call him or her, visited several times today and knows the program so well. It climbs up where it can see me and runs to the door when I get up go there. I don’t want to disappoint him or her. It took one piece of bologna Mink stripeMink stripeand went down the steps to the first floor deck, apparently to stash it under that deck, and came right back up for another. That was enough. I didn’t see it again for hours, and then the same story. Mink don’t look like they’re built for deep snow travel. We’ll see what they do over the winter. I haven’t had visits from them like this before.

Winter is here, and I’m glad the friendly birds and animals are here, too.

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center