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Mice Preparing for Winter

10-25-13 mouse larder 012Animals that remain active in New England throughout the year often make preparations for the colder months, when food is much scarcer. Eastern Chipmunks store up to half a bushel of nuts and seeds in their underground tunnels, Red Squirrels hang mushrooms and apples out to dry and White-footed and Deer Mice create larders, often out of abandoned bird nests. Once their young have fledged, most songbirds never re-use their nest. Mice find these empty cup-shaped containers perfect for storing seeds that they collect in the fall. The mouse that took over this Northern Cardinal nest (located in a rose bush) didn’t have to go far to collect a sizeable number of rose hips. One hopes that this isn’t this particular mouse’s only cached food, as most of the seeds (within the fleshy red covering) have been devoured. (Thanks to Marian Marrin for photo op.)

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8 responses

  1. Lindsay Putnam

    From the photo, not 100% sure, but these seeds look like burning bush seeds to me, not rose hips. FYI, burning bush plants are horribly invasive and have the ability to take over a large portion of the understory, out-competing the native flowers and small trees. Apparently they are spread by mice as well as birds! It is now illegal to sell this landscape plant in both NH and VT, but unfortunately many homeowners have them and they will be infesting our woods for a very long time to come.

    October 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    • Hi Lindsay,
      I agree with all you said about burning bush, but I’m glad to report that the contents of the nest were definitely rose hips — I examined them closely!

      October 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      • Lindsay Putnam

        Thank you, Mary. Glad of it, and sorry about the mistaken ID.


        October 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm

  2. Susan Holland

    I love the mental picture of the mouse carrying all those rose hips to the nest, but then being unable to leave them alone for winter and having to snack on them. Of course, maybe it was someone else stealing the seeds!

    October 26, 2013 at 2:28 am

  3. Fascinating information and picture.

    October 26, 2013 at 11:54 pm

  4. Chaffee Monell

    White-footed mice also make nests for themselves out of abandoned bird nests, building a roof over the top and lining the inside with downy material. I found 2 such nests on the grounds of the River Valley Charter School in Newburyport, MA. They used cattails for the fluffy stuff. I can send you a picture if you like.
    Chaffee Monell

    November 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm

  5. I realize that this is an old post, but I came across it after finding something similar. Would you guess that this is also a case of mouse food storage? –>

    May 2, 2017 at 12:56 am

    • What a great find! Yes, I’d bet on it being a mouse larder!

      May 2, 2017 at 8:41 am

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