Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wildlife in Winter

Each season presents wildlife with its own set of challenges; during the short cold days of winter finding adequate food and shelter is challenge enough.  The predominately oak forest in my region usually produce an acorn crop that many species including wild turkey depend upon for winter forage.  With the 2013 acorn crop a bust, this flock of turkeys has located a field where a local dairy farmer has spread manure.  While cow manure does not sound appetizing to us, the bits of undigested grain it contains brings these big birds back for a daily life sustaining meal. 
While deer have no choice but to stay out in the cold, they do have ways of coping with the chilly temperatures.  During cold windy weather deer will seek out thermal cover, vegetation that breaks the wind.  On cold sunny days they will often be found on southern exposures where the warming rays of the winter sun makes the day much more tolerable.  In addition to utilizing protection from the terrain, deer also have the ability to make their insulating coats thicker or thinner.  This deer, photographed on a morning when the thermometer read about 10 degrees, has its coat fluffed for maximum warmth. 
Humans can play a considerable role in the winter survival of some species.  Many songbirds depend upon backyard feeders to supplement their diet with high calorie foods such as sunflower seeds and suet. 

In a sometimes undesired way, backyard bird feeders also provide a ready food source to predator species.  This coopers hawk, with breast feathers fluffed to ward of the chill, watches intently for its chance at an unwary bird. 
In the ongoing cycle of life, the stress of winter removes the old, the weak, the infirm, and the unwary.  In death they in turn become food for the predator and scavenger species continuing the unending cycle of life and the continuous evolution through survival of the fittest.



Ruth Hiebert said...

Winter is a harsh time for all but even more so for the birds and animals who have no choice but to be outside.

Montanagirl said...

It truly is the survival of the fittest. Nice photos, Coy!

Carole Barkett said...

Beautiful! sure makes you wonder how they survive some of the harsh weather winter brings

Lindsjö taxar said...

Hi Coy!
We feed our roes now. We dont have Cold just now, about -3 to -5C.
Its warm for January this year. But its frozen what they can eat and we fill it up every week

Elaine said...

Lovely photos! The winter coping skills of animals is amazing.

Laura Delegal - Leroy Photography said...

You have found your calling. Great captures

photowannabe said...

Stunning photos of The Circle of Life.
I do feel so sorry for those that can't make it.
Sorry I haven't been here for so long. I don't know where the time goes. fun to peruse your photos again.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful shots.