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Weather and Wildlife
November 12, 2012
Elections are over.
I wont get political.
This isn't the place.
I will however ask this of all Americans........
Pray for your country, and pray hard for healing, and that God's Blessings may return.
Canada and our other friends, thanks for standing beside us.
Robins have pretty much left the area.
Oh, I hear one here and there, but not like it was a couple of weeks ago when they were everywhere.
Look for new visitors or birds you don't see every year.
Some of you have commented on forums and boards on new visitors.
Red-breasted nuthatches are plentiful this fall, in some regions.
This species of nuthatch is an irruptive species, leaving the mountains and northern regions they normally call home to visit our feeders.
Irruptive, meaning they will appear out of no where and sometimes for no reasons every so often.
Some species appear like clock work, while others like Common-Red Polls irrupt only when food is scarce.
This can be every four years or maybe 10 years in between major irruptions.
Red-breasted nuthatches irrupt every 2 or 3 years.
I'm working on hand feeding a couple of them and hope for some pictures in the near future.
Most trees around here have dropped their leaves.
Still, there is always one that seems to linger (pictured).
There are a few in my neighborhood where foliage still is hanging on (pictures taken two days ago).
For a more dramatic picture, try standing under the trees and look up.
It gives you a different perspective, doesn't it?
This week's letter is on, 'Weather and Wildlife', the affect this past summer plated and will play for the next year.
Many of us (myself included) just finished up one of the most challenging growing seasons in recent memory.
There were periods that were difficult at best.
An abnormal spring that gave us extreme heat, followed by crop killing frosts (think fruits).
At least that was the case around the Great Lakes.
For many of you, summer offered extreme heat and little or no rain (some locations had too much rain).
Even though I could water, plants still showed signs of stress.
With evaporation and Transpiration, some plants couldn't suck up enough water, period.
Fungus like 'Mildews' ran a muck.
Certain insects like spider mites thrived.
Certain insects like spider mites thrived in the dry heat.
While some plants t hrived, many did not.
You and I will be paying for this at the grocery store for a least a good year if not more.
Still, there was a plus side (maybe).
I can't recall one mosquito bite this year, yet 'West Nile Virus' was very deadly in some locations like cities were sewer drains are their main breeding grounds.
According to the experts, regions that suffer through Japanese Beetles will have fewer to contend with next summer.
Japanese Beetles prefer to lay their eggs (grubs) in well watered, green lawns.
There weren't as many green lawns this past summer.
Time will tell.
All said, have you given a thought as to how the weather can and does effect wildlife?
When you first think wildlife, I'm sure birds pop into you mind right away.
Why not, we see them everyday and almost every where we go.
You may even feed the birds like I do (year round).
(Red-Breasted nuthatch at my peanut feeder.)
Your first thoughts may be the cost of bird feed and seed.
This too is directly related to the drought.
Corn prices are at an all time high, and I'm sure we will see it in other products as well.
Now take a moment.......................................
If gardens and crops struggled, what about food sources in the wild?
Around here, spring frosts wiped out the wild grape crop.
Many berry producing plants produced inferior if any fruits due to la ck of rain.
A look around here and I see wildflowers and some weeds with inferior crops as well.
Some insects need certain plants to thrive and reproduce.
Still others need moisture to reproduce (mosquitoes).
Without the fruits and seeds, many birds struggle.
Without insects, certain species like swallows and warblers will die or can't feed a growing family.
Again, wildfires were at record levels as well.
Most fires were Nature (weather) induced by lightening and I can live with that, it is the man made fires that nauseate me.
I try to look at this the (best I can) as part of 'Nature'.
Creation thinning out certain species and removing the weak.
In the same time, other species thrive.
Weak and sick birds and animals, mean food for predators.
Stronger members survive and pass on the genes.
In the wild, nothing goes to waste.
For me, I will keep feeding the birds.
Not simply because I enjoy them so, but I understand the ever shrinking habitats and man made chemicals that continue to destroy so much of our 'Creator's' beauty.
Where else can I see ducks and turkeys feeding in the same spot (pictured below)?
The comforts of home and I can hand feed Black-capped chickadees and Red-breasted nuthatches and Mallard ducks.
Face it, I have a soft spot for all of nature, but especially birds.
Weather doesn't simply effect birds, it plays a roll on all of nature.
Predators have to eat and feed families as well.
Now, a weak or dying deer will feed a coyote or wolf pack.
In lean years, instinct will dictate that some predators will only have one or no babies (coyotes).
What about the times when weather is so adverse, that prey is lacking.
Now we have predators visiting our yards and Fluffy may come up missing one day.
Birds of prey hatch three chicks, but they all perish for lack of food.
When deer, elk or moose can't find enough food to put on winter fat, they may suffer a long and lingering death.
Then again, they may visit your yard and garden to find food.
When trees don't produce enough seeds or acorns, squirrels, deer, and others suffer.
Again, they come to visit you.
Chipmunks and ground squirrels are silly creatures.
Though they do hibernate, they also wake up from time to time for a winter's snack.
If they were diligent, they had enough food stored to last the winter.
Unfortunately, they have a short term memory and forget where they stash stuff and that is why you and I have corn, sunflowers and other stuff growing in our pots and other locations.
No matter, I delight in their antics and can tolerate their misdeeds.
I appreciate the skunks (most of the time).
They are busy gleaning grubs from lawns and do a bit of clean up under bird feeders and that is a good thing.
They too hibernate, but awaken during a winter warm up and search for food.
If these animals don't fatten up enough they fade away in their sleep.
Birds have established winter feeding territories.
If you feed the birds, you not only have your regulars, but you have a whole new batch of winter visitors as well.
It is a fact that some birds stash food and recall their cache for up to 30 days.
Still, other birds will find some of these.
The list for birds, animals and insects goes on and on.
Another weather related story.
In Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska and other states, there has been a deer die off in record numbers this year.
Thousands upon thousands of 'White-Tailed Deer'are perishing from a virus.
A viral disease known as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.
The disease is spread via insect bites and causes extensive internal hemorrhages, according to Michigan's Department of Natural Resources.
White-tailed deer usually develop symptoms seven days after exposure.
They experience loss of appetite, excessive salivation, rapid pulse and breathing, weakness, fever and eventually unconsciousness and death.
The virus is spread by a species of a blood-drinking insects called the midge.
Now read carefully.
As waters receded this summer, they left big mud pools behind.
The midges laid eggs in that mud.
More mud led to more midges and therefore more disease (drought conditions).
More than 4,200 deer carcass have been found in Michigan alone with at least as many not found according to Michigan's DNR.
As I mentioned, this has plagued other states and perhaps provinces as well.
The disease does not effect humans.
The weather effects plant life as well.
One or two dry years and most plants will either grow weak and become susceptible to insects or diseases or simply die.
(this is another reason for planting native, they are genetically prepared).
Still, some trees and shrubs will go into survival of the species mode (isn't Nature wonderful) and produce copious
Pictured is a small bit of a wild dogwood tree that is at woods edge near my home.
Notice the number of buds already set for next spring.
The past couple of years, the blooms were sparse.
You may expect more helicopters (seeds) from your various species of Maples.
Don't be surprised if some of your oaks produce a bumper crop of acorns.
(Some oaks like Red oak, it takes two years to produce a mature acorn, though the produce most every year.)
Many conifers may be top heavy with cone and you may have to remove them so your tree top doesn't grow bent over.
You get the idea.
God has provided the 'Natural World' its own checks and balances and sometimes the weather is one of them.
We as humans need to understand and yes we can freely lend a helping hand, and I'm glad we can.
'Gardening For Wildlife' not only attracts, but helps to sustain a small portion of your local wildlife.
The good, the bad and yes.........................
Winter is a challenge for most wildlife.
This past hot and dry summer only compounds the struggles.
Lend a helping hand if you can.
It is good to dream, but it is better to dream and work. Faith is mighty, but action with faith is mightier.
Thomas Robert Gaines
Amen and well said.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
But do you want to know,
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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