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Posts tagged “Winter Adaptations

Winter Survival Strategy of Flying Squirrels

 

During the winter flying squirrels often huddle together in large communal nests, sometimes with populations numbering over two dozen squirrels, in an effort to keep warm.  Two years ago 22 of these nocturnal creatures spent the majority of the winter in my log cabin, doing just that.  Although flying squirrels do not hibernate, if temperatures become too severe the squirrels will enter a state of torpor until temperatures return to normal.


Red Fox Winter Beds

Hard to believe as it may be, red foxes spend most nights curled up in the open air — winter, summer, fall and spring–regardless of the temperature.  Often they sleep in open fields, in an elevated area, where they can keep an eye out for approaching danger.  When making a bed, they curl up in a ball and wrap their bushy tail around themselves, covering their faces.  According to Leonard Lee Rue, when foxes sleep in the open, they usually doze for 15 to 25 seconds and then wake up, look around carefully, and nap again.  Only when a fox sleeps in dense cover does it go into a heavy sleep, waking every hour or so. If you look closely, you can see two fox beds in this photograph — one at about one o’clock and one at about seven  o’clock. Each is about a foot in diameter.


Ruffed Grouse Winter Adaptation

Every fall ruffed grouse grow skin-like fringes called pectinations on either side of each toe.  They serve as snowshoes, helping grouse stay on top of the snow when walking, and also help them cling to icy branches while eating the buds of poplars and other trees in the winter.  In the spring grouse shed these adaptive fringes.  The bird whose foot is in this photograph met its untimely death about a week ago (they frequently fly into windows, as this one did), and I was curious to see the stage of development of the pectinations at this time of year.  They appear to be about half to two-thirds the size they will attain when fully developed.