Winterís cold grip is beginning to be felt here in Wisconsin. The old wood stove has red coals in it day and night in an attempt to keep the house at a constant comfortable temperature. Carrying dry firewood into the house has become another daily chore and has to be done if I want to stay warm.
The cold has turned many wild animals and birds to scavengers. Crows and eagles fly over the country-side looking for a free meal in the form of carrion. A dead fish, carp or sucker, washed up on the river bank. A road-killed rabbit, squirrel or possum may become a meal as well. A farmer may have thrown a dead chicken or the afterbirth from a new born calf in the manure spreader and spread it onto a field. Scavengers like fox, coyotes, eagles or crows are always on the lookout for an easy meal.
Another source of food for wild scavengers comes after the gun deer season which ends the third week of November. Successful hunters will field dress the deer and leave gut piles on the ground. The scent of fresh food lures a coyote to a free meal of nutrient rich intestines and vital organs of the deer.
From now until spring, scavengers are natureís clean-up crew. The untimely death of one animal could mean a meal for another and the chance they will survive the long, cold winter.
October and November were some of the warmest on record this year. We saw bluebirds on the 23rd of November and a thrasher on the 25th. This morning a flock of 25 red- winged blackbirds showed up at the bird feeders. These are all birds that probably should have gone south before now but because of the unseasonably warm weather, they are still drifting through.
Itís fun to keep track of these sightings and compare them with the years before. Last year I saw three bluebirds on the 10th of December.
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