Thursday, October 23, 2008

Foliage Brightens and Birds Fade

The Goldfinch still stay but their feathers have taken on more subtler colors.

In the meantime the woods burst with varied hues.

The Dark-eyed Juncos, Junco hyemalis, have returned for their winter stay but so far there are only three, instead of the usual dozen or so.

The Staghorn Sumac has gone crimson.

And the other day, I looked over at the neighbor's yard and there was a grand sized group of , as they are called here, "Toadstools".

Many three to four inches in diameter.
An email arrived from Karen Anne Kolling who has been watching a Chipmunk at her feeding area out east--Chewie II As I have been watching one at mine in Wisconsin--Chewie I

Neither of us had seen our respective Chipmunks for some time so we had tentatively surmised they might be burrowed in for the winter.


Chewie II was just out there eating. Might he be making periodic appearances thru the winter?Karen

And my response--

Guess what? Wisconsin Chewie appeared at the feeding area for a little while the day before yesterday as well.

As to periodic visits through the winter, I’ve not seen the Chipmunks in WI once there is snow on the ground.

Chipmunk hibernation is slightly different from the kind we usually think of when we hear the word. Chips get up and eat inside their burrows during the winter and then snuggle in for more rest.

According to the research, hibernation in chipmunks is triggered by a hormone that is secreted by the endocrine system into their blood stream triggering the response. And the rate of secretion is determined by their circannual rthymn, a sort of body clock. So it's possible that the retirement to burrows may be a gradual process with longer and longer disappearances from feeding areas until they disappear underground and don't come out until Spring.

Ever wondered what was inside a squirrel's drey? I have and so had R. of Illinois so she found this website complete with photos to satisfy our curiosity.

Photos of the inside of a drey (and the baby chamber inside it)...

Very cool. No day is wasted or lost if I have learned something new!

R. of Illinois

1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

I've seen Chewie II out there 2-3 times in the last few days, but he is back in his "summer mode" of dashing away at the slightest thing, instead of the "stay and eat furiously almost no matter what" mode he was in for awhile.

It's been getting colder and dropped to freezing overnight last night for the first time this season.