- It was bright, sunny and warm yesterday afternoon when we went out looking.
Not surprising enough we hardly saw anything south of Weyburn on the flats.
Early snows in the winter season glued down with rain left few if any open
spots for Horned Larks, Snow Buntings or Lapland Longspurs to forage on. So
these winter birds moved on to better places quite awhile ago.
Nor did we see any Snowy Owls. Which was hardly surprising. They, unlike
Great Greys, are unable to smash through snow to get at voles and mice
running under the snow cover. They probably have to wait for them to come
to the surface.
It is an interesting nether world with lateral crevices and tunnels caused
by differing rates of snow shrinkage where little four footed critters
scurry around all winter. It most likely is nicely lit during the day -
not that that matters all that much to a mouse.
Given the thickness and hardness of the snow cover this year, it would be
very difficult on many days for fox to pounce up and then down through to
the tell-tail smells of voles.
Unfortunately, this does not translate into a safer environment for mice.
Carbon dioxide is expelled when we mammals breathe. It, in overdoses, can
poison and kill. Voles and mice have to get to the surface and away from CO2
I wonder about Snowy Owls' habit of staying behind snowdrifts caused by
grasses and weeds acting as snow fences. Maybe, it is more than keeping out
of the wind. These may be places where it is easier for mice and voles to
get to the surface and breathe fresh air. A opportune locale for an owl to
get a meal.
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