Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Hare Fare

young snowshoe hare in late spring

What do snowshoe hares eat?  Bugs Bunny might subsist on carrots, but hares in the wild seldom have access to them.  After a hare has been weaned, a smorgasbord of healthy fare can be found around Flandrum Hill.  Greens may not be a favorite of young children, but they are certainly enjoyed by young hares.

young snowshoe hare

Below, a young hare sniffs a closed dandelion flower.

young hare smelling dandelion

Plantains and dandelion blooms and stems may taste bitter to us, but not to hares who eat them along with the leaves.

young hare eating dandelion

Below, an older hare decides to give sunflower seeds left out for the chickadees a try in early spring.

snowshoe hair eating sunflower seeds

Year-round, hares have access to the tips of low-hanging evergreen boughs such as spruce and balsam fir.  These are especially tender and delectable in late spring.  In winter, deep snow makes boughs higher up on the trees easier for the hares to reach.

https://flandrumhill.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/snowshoe-hare-eating-spruce-needles.jpg?w=500

Perhaps we should take note of the hares’ food choices and all consider eating more greens. It’s highly likely that the snowshoe hares’ diet is at least partially responsible for their vitality, which seems to be leaps and bounds ahead of ours.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2015

Counting Birds

pileated woodpecker Today, 2015’s Global Big Day, everyone on the planet is invited to count the birds they see or hear, note the species and submit observations to www.ebird.org so that a global count can be made.  You need not be an expert bird enthusiast, just someone who loves the birds in your own backyard. hairy woodpecker A big day is akin to a big year, “an informal competition among birders to see who can see or hear the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area.”  (See Wikipedia for more information).  I first came across the practice in ‘The Big Year‘ with Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin as competitive birders in a movie based on a true story. ducks hairy woodpecker smInspired by the movie, this January I decided to start tracking the number of bird species I was able to see or hear in my local area.  Nature obliged.  One little bird told another little bird and amazingly, birds I hadn’t seen in years were suddenly visible again.  Even ones I hadn’t ever seen locally seemed to come out of the woodwork.  I’ve never seen as many bird species in my yard in such a short span of time. Last month I set up a birdwatching station in my preschool room.  Bird feeders were hung on a tree near a window. Pictures identifying local birds were placed next to the window so that children knew exactly what to look for in the wooded area behind our room.  In just a few weeks’ time, children have gone from saying ‘there’s a bird’ to ‘there’s a mourning dove’ and ‘I see two chickadees and a boy woodpecker.’  We’ve thrilled at the sight of brilliant red  cardinals, ‘kissing’ mourning doves, and an enormous pileated woodpecker.

If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come. ~  Chinese Proverb

Birds enhance our lives with their beauty and song.  They witness our comings and goings as we move in and out of buildings and are an important part of our cityscapes, landscapes and seascapes.  Share your enthusiasm today by taking an inventory of what you see in your own backyard.  You’ll be glad you did.

spring robin

For more information and to record your observations, see Global Big Day 2015

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2015

Sharing Dining Turf

red squirrelRed squirrels aren’t usually keen on sharing their dining room with others. The presence of other squirrels and birds is seldom tolerated, especially when black oil sunflower seeds are on the menu.

snowshoe hare in spring coatBut sometimes, on very rare occasions, a special someone comes along whose company can actually enhance the dining experience.  Who knew snowshoe hares had more than just an interest in large families to bring to the conversation, or a palate for fine seeds?

snowshoe hare and red squirrelSnow continues to cover so much of the ground this spring that animals seem more open to eating outside their usual fare and tolerating the presence of other species.  These two have become regular dining partners near the back deck.  I wonder if they’ll continue their ‘friendship’ once the snow cover is gone and dandelions are ripe for the eating.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2015

hopping down the bunny trailWith so much snow still in the woods, it doesn’t look much like Spring here.  Thankfully, the Easter Bunny hopped by this morning to remind us that not just Easter, but Spring too is on its way. Its coat of blended tawny brown and white indicates the lengthening daylight hours.  Surely all that extra sunlight will help us see grass again soon.

white tailed deerIt’s been a rough winter for wildlife.  Relentless snowfalls have covered food sources and made movement on all types of terrain difficult.  Deer have been frequent visitors in the yard, looking for anything edible.

snowshoe hareNot all creatures are as lucky as the snowshoe hares to be able to leap with ease on top of the snow.  Bobcats haven’t been able to keep up with them in deep snow and have suffered the consequences in their dwindling numbers.  With their small prey buried deep in tunnels beneath the hard snow cover, snowy owls have also suffered.

Sometimes hard winters make it seem like warmer days will never come again, especially when snow continues to fall for weeks after the vernal equinox.

Hopefully, the real spring is just around the corner.

The deep roots never doubt spring will come.

~ Marty Rubin

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2015

Bee-loved Clover

bumblebee in field of clover

The lawn is laden with clover this week, offering an all-you-can-eat bumblebee buffet.  The bumblebees’ activity is so quick and their movement so constant (they’re as busy as bees you know) that almost every photograph I took of them was blurred.  It was also a challenge to not step on the bees as I attempted to photograph them while they worked.

bumblebee showing pollen basket on clover

As they travel from clover floret to floret seeking nectar, female worker bumblebees fill the pollen baskets on their hind legs.  By the time these baskets are considered full by the bee, each might contain up to a million grains of pollen.  Imagine the care and hard work required to gather so many grains!  This pollen will then be carried home to feed the next generation of bees.

clover floret

Due to their long tongues, bumblebees are the insects most capable of reaching the nectar hidden within the folds of the clover floret.  Bumblebees pay for the pollen grains they gather by cross-pollinating the many clover florets they visit.  They’re hairy little creatures, magnets for any pollen they encounter as they go about their busy work.  Later, back at home, they’ll use special combs on their legs to carefully clean off any pollen that’s left lingering on their bodies.

bumblebee on clover

One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care.  Such is the nature of bees…
~ Leo Tolstoy

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2014

A Prickly Visitor

young porcupine

One evening this week, a young porcupine was discovered meandering on the lawn in the backyard.  I’ve seen small porcupines on the lawn before, but never so close to the house. At first glance, this little one appeared soft and fluffy, like a cuddly stuffed toy one would pick up to snuggle. Its manner was certainly docile, but appearances can be deceiving. Longer hairs hide the quills on a porcupine’s backside, especially when viewed from the front.

fluffy porcupine

Porcupines are born, only one at a time, in April or May, after a gestational period of about seven months.  Even though it’s able to defend itself once its quills dry, a few hours after birth, the single young porcupine stays close to its mother for the first summer.

porcupine side view

Once it sensed our presence on the back deck, this little one raised its backside and headed towards the woods.

porcupine tail

Its white tail swayed back and forth as it went on its way, likely back to the arms of its awaiting mother.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2014

%d bloggers like this: