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A Lucky Shot

winter wildlife

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#16 Meadowlark

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    Retired US Army, active field biologist.
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Posted 16 February 2020 - 07:50 PM

I have THREE species of owls living here, the best are the Barn Owls. We installed a nest box for them several years ago and every year, they raise a brood. We also feed the birds, and you'd think we'd have problems with coons and rodents? Nay...the barn owls keep the mice down to nada, and the great horned take out the coons...when they're babies, though. Great horneds are a dilemma, though, they hunt other owls, I'm sorry to say, and have found the remains of Barred owls.


Then the are my diurnal predators...Cooper's and Sharpshinned hawks, Kestrels, Red tailed hawks, etc. I don't have possums, for instance.  I do have skunks, and while one thinks, what good is a skunk? Not only are they mousers, they control yellow jackets. The yellowjackets nest in the ground, and woe be unto you should you mow it. Oh, my....and my husband is allergic to wasp venom. The skunks will dig up the nest and eat everything. That, I bet is why they have the scent glands...I bet it keeps the wasps at bay. I'd much rather have a skunk in the area than wasps...although wasps are important predators, too.


Most predators are keystone species. I did my thesis in college on the restoration of the wolf to the Yellowstone ecosystem. After the extirpation of Yellowstones wolves in the 30's, the elk population had exploded, stripping the vegetation to nothing. Coyotes became the prime predator, and coyotes mostly take pronghorn and deer, so their numbers had plummeted. No vegetation on the river banks meant that beavers were absent, sedimentation destroyed the redds of cutthroat trout, meaning the rainbow...an invasive species...almost drove the cutthroat to local extinction. it just cascaded downhill.  Within a few years of wolf re-introduction, they'd killed forty coyotes-which meant the pronghorn and deer could actually bring babies up to adulthood, the elk were culled to more reasonable numbers, allowing vegetation to regrow, beaver moved back in, creating ponds for the cutthroat and even..unexpectedly, grizzlies began to recover, as they are usually successful in driving a wolf pack off a kill...and the sows, especially, rely on that food source.

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2011 17" Spirit Deluxe, "Grus Egg"


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