This week's edition of "Traplines on Cypress Creek" discuesses the changing of the seasons, as well as the types of animals that start showing up around this time of year.
Though you were likely in doubt as you dug your Post newspaper out of the snow last week, spring is making its inexorable trip across the equator and is heading our way. Even if the weather doesn’t show it readily, nature is unerring in its signals.
Each year about this time I get calls about the hawks and eagles that are being seen. Almost as if Poe’s gravesite visitor had arrived, again I had a report of seeing a gorgeous white hawk out in the Hartley/Pearsons Corner area. Each year I tell people this is the time of year when spring is born.
It’s the warm and fuzzy, cute and cuddly time of year, and all of it with a measured degree of certainty.
People are seeing the hawks and eagles — even an occasional owl just returning from a late date or getting an early start on one — this time of year. That’s because they are nesting now and whichever one is setting on the eggs needs nourishment by the other mate. Those eggs are going to be hatching within the next week or two.
Other predator species, like the red and grey fox along with the coyotes now infesting our Small Wonder, are already giving birth to litters of from six kits in foxes to the 19 possible pups from coyotes. The vixen and female coyote are denned up nursing their young while the males are out hunting to keep her healthy.
Simultaneously, the prey animals also are in the last stages of gestation. Rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, even our whitetails are on schedule to be giving birth just as the predators are weaned. (And yes, red foxes can and will prey on both fawns as well as adult does just giving birth if given the chance.)
Turkeys tend to avoid much of that frenzy as they delay both their courtship (which makes turkey hunters very happy) and are just beginning to nest during that time. Still, turkeys hardly get a free pass and much like the ducks and geese nesting here, are in extreme danger while on the ground. Aside from the canids, the raccoons pose a devastating problem to ground nesting birds with both the eggs and the setting bird being viable targets. Possums are notorious nest raiders and though they seldom kill the birds, their destruction of the nest speaks for itself.
For all its beauty and tragedy, nature is a glorious process and there are still many young people out there who are in awe when exposed to the facts of the circle of life. If you have a young person or know of one who falls in this category, I highly recommend two books. The first is the empirical classic on conservation, “Sand Count Almanac” by Aldo Leopold, and the second is “The Forest” by Roger Caras (known for his emcee work at the Westminster Dog Show in years past.) They aren’t bad reading for us old folks either.