A week-by-week look at what is happening in nature.
A special thanks to Virginia Barlow’s Ginny’s Calendar in Northern Woodlands Magazine.
Looking for birds? Look for water – many waterfowl stick around, including mallards, black ducks, hooded mergansers, common loons, and red-necked grebes / Deer distribute scent by chewing on branches and scraping the ground. They have scent glands in their feet / Sometimes wild grapes turn into raisins and stay well into winter, providing food for wildlife / Oak and beech hold on to their browned leaves and so are easily recognizable at this time of year.
On warm days, late-flying bees and flies will be gathering nectar from witch hazel flowers / Ruffed grouse are growing their “snowshoes” – seasonal horny extensions to their toes that will allow them to walk on top of the snow / Bluebirds take advantage of frost numbed grasshoppers / Most killdeer leave during the last half of October.
Halloween lady beetles are seeking shelter in buildings. Each one has consumed about 300 aphids during its larval stage, but these newcomers might be outcompeting native lady beetles / Acidic sap is responsible for the red/orange color of sugar maple leaves. Alkaline sap contributes to the cool purple leaves of white ash.
Sparrow migration is well underway, with white-crowned, song, chipping, white-throated, savannah, swamp, and fox sparrows on the move / Crickets may move into buildings as they search for places to hibernate. Their incessant chirping can be aggravating at close range / Milkweed seeds are airborne / Wood turtles return to streams, rivers, and ponds to mate before hibernating in undercut banks and root masses / White pines drop half their needles every autumn.