Outdoors Journal: Nature notes for early January

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT
  • Updated: January 6, 2012 - 12:10 AM

• Already by Jan. 6 we have gained 9 minutes of daylight since the winter solstice, a welcome gift. To many people, winter is the season of anticipation and joy, and here in temperate Minnesota, the season of survival and frozen beauty. Lake ice cracks, groans and booms as it expands and contracts with changing temperatures. This doesn't necessarily mean that the ice is unsafe for fishing or skating, but for those out on the ice, the rumbling and rolls are eerie indeed.

• White-tailed deer bucks continue to lose their antlers. Deer are browsing twigs from sugar maples, basswoods, cedars, sumacs, and red-osier dogwoods. Six to 10 pounds of twigs are eaten daily by healthy deer. An individual gray squirrel can eat up to 40 pounds of acorns in one winter, finding them in the ground by odor alone. Flying squirrels sometimes use wood duck nesting boxes as winter homes; several can be found in one box, each rolled up like a ball.

• Bald eagles hunt fish where open water is found. House finches feed on green ash seeds and European starlings relish crabapples. Great horned owls hoot to one another as they set up nesting territories.

JIM GILBERT

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