A week-by-week look at what is happening in nature.
A special thanks to Virginia Barlow’s Ginny’s Calendar in Northern Woodlands Magazine.
Rattlesnake plantain (really an orchid) stays green all winter. The leaves are covered with a net of white veins and grow in a small rosette / Chipmunks will keep coming out if it is warm / Great blue herons are often seen this late in the year, but these stragglers will soon be gone / The entire population of greater snow geese, about 250,000 birds, migrates south between the Hudson and the Connecticut River / Aspen buds are a favorite food of ruffed grouse.
A cattail flowerhead has tiny seeds and is mostly fluff. Now used by mice for insulation, in spring it will be used to line bird nests / Ash and birch seeds stay on the trees well into winter, providing food for finches / When beechnuts and acorns are scarce, bears will search for food over a wide area.
Looking for birds? Look for water – many waterfowl stick around, including mallards, black ducks, hooded mergansers, common loons, and red-necked grebes / Deer distribute scent by chewing on branches and scraping the ground. They have scent glands in their feet / Sometimes wild grapes turn into raisins and stay well into winter, providing food for wildlife / Oak and beech hold on to their browned leaves and so are easily recognizable at this time of year.
On warm days, late-flying bees and flies will be gathering nectar from witch hazel flowers / Ruffed grouse are growing their “snowshoes” – seasonal horny extensions to their toes that will allow them to walk on top of the snow / Bluebirds take advantage of frost numbed grasshoppers / Most killdeer leave during the last half of October.