Chance are good that by now you have heard about (or have experienced first-hand!) the burgeoning mouse population in Minnesota. People all over are reporting mice everywhere — in their houses, garages, vehicles, sheds, wood piles ... you name it. The cyclic nature of rodent populations, particularly mice and voles, generally goes unnoticed until they begin showing up in unwanted places.
Despite the near countless hours I've spent in the great outdoors, Nature, and all its wonders, continues to deliver surprises and the unexpected. As luck would have it, another of those instances occurred just a few evenings ago while out hunting ruffed grouse. The evening was uncommonly warm for a near mid-October outing, but I didn't complain. Anytime is a good time to be in the woods. As I concluded my hunt at sundown, I began my near mile-long walk back to the vehicle. I chose for my return trip the same route I took in — an old two-track forest access trail.
Ecology, or the relations of organisms to one another and to their surrounding physical environment, include near limitless examples the world over. Some of the more interesting and fascinating examples involve pollinators and seed dispersal mechanisms.
It might be hard to think of now, especially with the bright fall colors of autumn still clinging to trees and the brilliant gold of tamarack yet to come, but snow could arrive most any day as October wanes and migrant birds evacuate Minnesota for warmer climates. Indeed, November and December beckons while January and February await.
Several summers ago while spending a day in a Wadena County jack pine woodland, I was startled when a large furry animal leapt from a thickly limbed nearby pine. The dark form hit the ground in a loud thud, and was immediately running as fast as it could in the opposite direction I was heading.
September's here, and along with it comes the end of summer, the season's first frosts, autumn colors, and the glorious fall months of the northland. We're already noticing the telltale signs—some songbirds are beginning their migration south, hummingbirds have become less abundant at our feeders, and white-tailed deer bucks are shedding velvet to expose the hard bone underneath and soon-to-be polished and gorgeous racks.
I once watched a curious looking bird hovering above a clump of dead grass alongside a woodland. Gray in plumage and about the size of a robin, the bird surprised me when it abruptly plummeted to the ground and disappeared into the tall vegetation. I stood still a few moments wondering what would happen next. I soon found out, for the bird emerged, flying, but now had something gripped in its beak. To my astonishment, the bird had a lifeless vole by the scruff of the neck and was laboring hard to remain airborne while negotiating dense shrub-growth.
I once followed a set of wolf tracks on a sandbar along the Goodnews River in southwestern Alaska’s Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. I wondered if the lone wolf had been...
Every year, come mid-May, if not a little sooner, expect your resident hummingbirds and orioles to come a ‘knocking for a handout. Always the males make their return trips to...
Ask any wildlife biologist, forester, fisheries biologist or field ecologist why they chose the career they did, and you will get a response as varied as their individual backgrounds, personalities,...