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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Whether it be Mountain Ash berries in New England or Toyon berries in Southern California, these fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, as well as many others found across North America, are critical food sources for all forms of wildlife, especially for birds during the Winter months when insects are overwintering and not available for consumption

Winter Fruit Provides Bounty for Wildlife

Winter Fruit Provides Bounty for Wildlife Image
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol
Late one January afternoon, my husband and I stood on the shore of a frozen pond below the summit of Camel’s Hump, admiring the view. Suddenly we heard familiar calls, and a flock of robins flew over. Robins? In winter? In the mountains? I was perplexed.
Later, I talked with a birder friend, who informed me that robins from Labrador and other northern regions migrate south to the Green and White Mountains in winter, where they feed on mountain ash berries. Indeed, during our snowshoe trek to the pond, we had noticed clumps of bright red fruit in the small mountain ash trees, topped with powdery snow.
Although the Northeast is not known for winter fruit, according to UVM biology professor emeritus Bernd Heinrich in his book Winter World, there are twenty-nine species of berries which ripen in fall and persist on the branch through the winter. Trees and shrubs laden with refrigerated fruit are an important food source for wildlife, especially birds, and can produce someunusual sightings. The only time I’ve ever seen pine grosbeaks was on a cold winter day; the big, olive-green females and rose-colored males were feeding on crabapples in a small tree next to a health clinic. These birds live in Canada’s coniferous forests, but visit our region in years when seeds and wild fruit are scarce there.
Another time I witnessed a chattering flock of Bohemian waxwings descend on the staghorn sumac trees lining a parking lot in Montpelier to feed on the fuzzy, reddish fruits. Bohemian waxwings, named for their nomadic behavior, are larger than their more familiar cousins, the ce-dar waxwings, and more colorful, with white and yellow wing marks. Like pine grosbeaks, they reside in boreal forests, but flocks periodically invade the U.S., where they roam about in search of wild fruit.
Bohemian and cedar waxwings are the most frugivorous (fruit-eating) birds in North America. Their stomachs have less musculature and their intestines are shorter than those of birds with a more varied diet. Food passes through the gut quickly, so they can feed rapidly when fruit is available. Flocks of waxwings can make short work of fruit on a tree. You might almost feel sorry for the plant. But plants and birds evolved together, and plants have designed fruit — delicious little packages of pulp — to attract birds and other wildlife, in order to disperse their seeds. Many seeds can survive passage through an animal’s digestive tract and are transported to new places that way.
Fruit pulp is typically rich in carbohydrates and vitamins and the seeds inside are concentrated sources of fat and proteins. However, specific nutritional content depends on the season of dispersal, writes Heinrich. Fruits with a long branch life such as staghorn sumac are more acidic and lower in fat, sugar, and water to prevent spoilage.
Apples, both wild and cultivated, are another fruit popular with wildlife in winter. Check beneath an apple tree and you’re likely to find deer tracks, droppings, and pawings in the snow where the deer have dug up frozen fruit. Coyotes, foxes, fishers, snowshoe hares, red and gray squirrels, grouse, and turkeys will all eat apples in winter. Squirrels will store apples in the crooks of tree branches for future consumption.  
This past fall, there was an abundant crop of apples and other fruit and as a consequence, some bears continued feeding and delayed hibernation. While cross-country skiing in early December, I saw bear tracks coming out of the woods and leading to a group of wild apple trees in the back corner of a pasture. The small trees were not strong enough to support the bear, so it had pulled down several branches to reach the apples. The following day, I skied by a porcupine feeding in one of the apple trees.
Planting native fruit-bearing trees and shrubs is a great way to provide food for birds and other wildlife in winter. Some good choices are mountain ash and the three viburnums: nannyberry, high-bush “cranberry,” and maple-leaved arrowood. Staghorn sumac often sprouts naturally, and is considered a “weed tree” by many. But it is valuable for birds as its fruits last up to eight months and provide food in late winter and early spring when few other berries are available. Sumac fruits are consumed by returning migrants such as flickers and catbirds.  
Flocks of birds feeding on winter fruit in your yard are sure to brighten up a cold, gray day.
Susan Shea is a naturalist, writer, and conservation consultant who lives in Brookfield, Vermont.
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Sunday, January 12, 2020

"The eastern chipmunk is a central place forager"........"This means that similar to the beaver and the honeybee, the chipmunk carries food back to a central location"............"In autumn, that location is the chipmunk’s winter burrow"..........."It’s an impressive feat of earthworks that includes a bedroom, bathroom, several tunnels to the surface, and multiple larders".........."Chipmunk territories average about 5,000 square meters (a little more than an acre) and they overlap"..........."This means that rivals lurk nearby, poised to snarf up food at a forage site, or even steal from undefended burrows"

Chipmunk Game Theory 101 Image
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol
Two chipmunks vie for seeds on our front lawn. One lives directly underneath the bird feeder. Another hails from the far side of the house, address unknown.
The chipmunks appear identical to me: same size, same stripes. Same interests, namely seed hoarding, aggressive chittering, jumping into the bushes and back out again, and brazen stiff-tailed standoffs with the dog.
However, some aspects of these chipmunks’ behavior are probably distinctive. Experiments have demonstrated that a chipmunk’s choosiness about what food they collect, how fully they stuff their cheek pouches, and even how quickly they stuff food in there all relate to the distance between a foraging site and a home burrow.
The eastern chipmunk, Tamias striatus, is a central place forager. This means that, similar to 
the beaver and the honeybee, the chipmunk carries food back to a central location. In autumn, that location is the chipmunk’s winter burrow. It’s an impressive feat of earthworks that includes a bedroom, bathroom, several tunnels to the surface, and multiple larders.
As the winter cold sets in, the chipmunk retreats to its bedroom, tucks its tail over its nose, and sinks into a deep sleep. However, unlike many other hibernating mammals, it doesn’t sleep the winter away. Because it lacks fat reserves, it has to wake up frequently to feed.
In other words, chipmunks have good cause for their hoarding obsession. But their intense foraging activity has a cost. The time and energy that a chipmunk spends obtaining and hauling food from a particular site, be it a birdfeeder or a patch of forest floor, represent precious calories invested and other opportunities sacrificed. As established food sites are depleted, chipmunks have to go out and look for new ones, and this is an energy gamble. Long distance foraging may offer access to more desirable food sites, but it requires more travel time and increases the risk of predation.
Then there is the “loading curve” consideration. In general, the more food a chipmunk stuffs in its cheek pouches, the slower its subsequent stuffing, and therefore the greater its overall risk of predation. Nor is every food item created equal. In addition to issues of durability and nutritive value, some food is simply easier to harvest and stuff than other food.
As if all these factors weren’t enough to worry about, chipmunks have another problem to manage: other chipmunks. Chipmunk territories average about 5,000 square meters (a little more than an acre) and they overlap. This means that rivals lurk nearby, poised to snarf up food at a forage site, or even steal from undefended burrows.
So how does all this play out underneath the bird feeder?
Fortunately for the inquisitive, there has been extensive research in central place foraging over the past few decades, and the chipmunk has been the protagonist of numerous scholarly papers. Some of these veer to the unintentionally funny. My favorite example, a paper out of the UniversitĂ© du QuĂ©bec, describes an experiment assessing chipmunk reactions to sunflower seeds that had toothpicks stuck to their shells with Advanced Formula Instant Krazy Glue®.
Out of all this research emerges what might be called the guiding rule of chipmunk game theory. Chipmunks have evolved to be energy maximizers. They seek to strike the optimal balance between the energy gain per cheek pouch load and the highest possible number of trips back to the burrow. In the absence of other variables, a chipmunk that is near its burrow will have smaller pouch loads and make more frequent trips than a chipmunk from a distant burrow, which will stuff its cheeks full before heading back home.
Of course, chipmunks’ lives teem with other variables, and studies show that chipmunk behavior adapts to take many of them into account. Here are some basics from what might be called Chipmunk Game Theory 101.
If another chipmunk is making a lot of noise, it might be fussing at you, but it also may have spotted a hawk or a weasel. Slow down pouch stuffing and look out for predators. If food is low quality and far from home, seek another foraging site. If a site has a dwindling supply of food, or if the food requires extensive handling time (for example, some jerk covered the seeds with toothpicks and Krazy Glue), take time during your return trip to explore alternative sites. If a dominant chipmunk temporarily vacates a food site, spend more time there and stuff all you can. If another chipmunk is at the food site, slow down stuffing and keep an eye on him. If a subordinate chipmunk is intruding on your territory, chase him. Sure, it will cost you energy, but it will cost him energy too, and maybe he won’t come back.
Of course, it’s easy to imagine more factors: weather, steepness of terrain between burrow and foraging site…how about pouch fatigue? My small primate brain boggles at the complexities. It’s enough to make me want to chitter aggressively, jump into the bushes, and jump back out again.
Elise Tillinghast is the publisher of Northern Woodlands magazine.
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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Once gain, to reiterate to all who have been seduced to feel there is something clean about Windmills and Solar Farms, not only do they require significant amounts of oil to manufacture these machines, they require digging up even more open space to get the energy to us folks..........A wake up call to all as we begin 2020-------NO SUCH THING AS CLEAN WIND AND SOLAR!!!

Idaho Needs More Power but Parts of Oregon Object

Utilities are trying to build lines to transport clean energy across states but face local resistance

If You Want ‘Renewable Energy,’ Get Ready to Dig

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of plastic

Idaho Power has proposed a transmission line in Oregon to connect a hub in eastern Washington to the fast-growing Idaho market. Some residents say the line would mar the natural environment.

LA GRANDE, Ore.—In this small town in eastern Oregon, renewable energy is widely popular. But the power lines needed to transmit it aren’t.
La Grande is one of many communities nationwide fighting against transmission lines being built to keep up with a surge in clean-power generation.
We need to develop more renewable energy, of course, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of damage to our last remaining wild places,” Brian Kelly, who helps lead a green group in the area, said of a proposed transmission line that would run through the nearby forest.
Utilities are under pressure to put up more power lines because many clean-energy plants are being built far from major cities. Renewable energy is generated from sources like the sun or wind that don’t get depleted, unlike finite amounts of oil and coal.
There were about 2,500 planned or newly completed transmission projects in the U.S. last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. While the federal agency didn’t have historical data on such projects, it estimates industry costs for transmission-related operations increased to $11.4 billion last year from $6.7 billion in 2009.
About 900 new plants, most of which produce renewable energy, were proposed last year, compared with 300 in 2004, said Glenn McGrath, an analyst with the federal agency.
Regardless of where you go, there’s always some issues—whether it’s bats, whether it’s birds, whether it’s wealthy landowners who don’t want their view interrupted,” said Dan Shreve, wind-energy research director at consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. “As a consequence, you see these initiatives drag on forever.”
Wisconsin residents have banded against the proposed 125-mile Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line led by American Transmission Co., which would provide the region with more clean power. An opposition group plans to appeal the state’s approval of the project west of Milwaukee issued earlier this year.
In New Mexico, locals including filmmaker Robert Redford fought Hunt Power’s proposal to build a 30-mile transmission line that would add capacity for more renewable power. In the face of the opposition, the Dallas-based energy company withdrew its federal application for the Verde Transmission Project north of Santa Fe in August.
‘We need to develop more renewable energy, of course, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of damage to our last remaining wild places’
—Brian Kelly
Idaho Power’s proposed line in Oregon would connect a hub in eastern Washington that gathers largely hydropower and solar energy to the fast-growing Idaho market. The company said the project would cost up to $1.2 billion.
Mr. Kelly, restoration director of the Greater Hells Canyon Council, is one of many local residents fighting the 300-mile line. They say it would disrupt elk and deer herds, add to the wildfire threat and spoil views of the Oregon Trail, where remnants of pioneers’ wagon tracks are still visible.
Idaho Power officials say that their equipment would have a minimal influence on wildlife, would be built with fire safety in mind and that its shorter towers would lessen the visual impacts on the Oregon Trail.
The opponents in November filed suit in federal court to block the line, pending more environmental analysis. The Oregon Energy Department, which issued a draft order in support of the line, is analyzing public input. It will then make a final recommendation that the governor’s energy council is expected to act on over the next several months. Idaho Power said it hopes to begin construction by 2023.
Initially, the Idaho Power line was going to cross about 5 miles east of La Grande through the middle of a 7,400-acre ranch known for its large elk herds. Brad Allen, a potato farmer who bought it as a hunting and recreation preserve, said he threatened to sue to block the route.
It would have devastated my ranch,” said the 55-year-old Mr. Allen.
Idaho Power then selected two alternative routes—one hugging a ridge overlooking La Grande and the other bypassing the city-owned Morgan Lake nearby
Our interest all along has been to support what the community wants,” said Mitch Colburn, director of resource planning and operations for Idaho Power.
The ridge route would cross below the home of Fuji Kreider and her husband, Jim Kreider, who have helped organize a group to stop it. They advocate generating more renewable power locally. Among their worries is the kind of wildfire sparked byPG&E Corp. equipment that destroyed Paradise, Calif., in 2018.
We want to learn from California and not repeat the same mistake,” said Mr. Kreider, 65, a retired administrator and educator.
Idaho Power officials say that their equipment and operations are designed to be fire-safe, and that they are now focusing more on the Morgan Lake route based on the concerns. Local landowners object to that, too.