“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe” – John Muir
Squirrels, both red and gray, are frequent visitors to our bird feeders. But, they must do more than eat: avoid being eaten! A Red Fox has also been cruising the neighborhood, and small mammals are a dietary staple.
Morning doves, as many as two dozen, flutter in to feed several times a day. But, they too have natural enemies. Cooper’s hawks learn to hunt bird feeders (their fly-through restaurant), and doves are a favorite target.
Coyotes prey on deer, especially young, old and unhealthy ones. However, the greatest threat to deer in winter is a population that exceeds the carrying capacity of the habitat. Over time, excessive browsing by hungry deer destroys the forest understory, which has an adverse, domino effect on plant and animal diversity.
The dense vegetation in this scene is misleading. It obviously provides bedding cover, but is virtually devoid of palatable food.
Pileated woodpeckers are thriving in our woodlands, especially where tree mortality from ash decline, beech bark disease and other pests is high. Large dead and dying trees provide habitat for woodpeckers to drill for food and create nest cavities. Later, the excavations become critical nesting habitat for dozens of bird and mammal species – including the Tufted Titmouse.
When winters are severe, with heavy snow cover, a “winter thaw” can be the difference between life and death for wildlife. Turkeys are one species that benefit greatly from a warm spell in mid winter because they mainly forage on the ground.
In winter, blackbirds form large flocks that waste little time finding concentrated food sources. Barn yards and farm fields are favorite dining locations.
Photos by NB Hunter (Jan. – Feb., 2019). © All rights reserved.
Your commentary and pictures complement each other so well. This is a very interesting read.
Beautiful collection, Nick. I enjoyed how you connected each to its spot in the food web and to Muir’s quote.
Great Photos, the hawk one is beautiful
Excellent post, Nick, loved all your photos and information!
Nice pics, I like your Pileated Woodpecker pic, I find them incredibly hard to photograph. Also a good shot of the Tufted Tit Mouse.
John Muir said it so much better, but It’s all connected, isn’t it? Great images, as are the lessons presented. Your posts are always a pleasure to learn and to enjoy.
Thanks for the interesting post and great photos.
Fabulous photography again, Nick!
You have an amazing array of neighbors, Nick.