March 12, 2004
Another Winter Strategy
On my way out after photographing the pine trees covered in snow I came across this little guy. I switched lenses and stopped to photograph him for a while. Starting a ways back I would take a few shots and then slowly move forward a step or two. Eventually I was able to get as close as I wanted to be without scaring the squirrel at all.
In fact while I was there he went along his business completely undisturbed. He had a cache of pine cones stashed in the crotch of this box alder. He sat up in the tree and gnawed through the cones as if he was eating corn on the cob. As soon as he finished one he would head down, grab another cone and then go back up to his vantage point and start chowing down again.
There are many different strategies that animals use to make it through the winter. Some, like the deer, go through an intense period of eating during the fall to lay in enough fat to make it through the winter. Some migrate to warmer locations. Some, like frogs, slow down their metabolism and hibernate waiting out winter. And then there are some, like this red squirrel can actually prosper in the wintertime because it is easier to reach certain foods. Another example of this winter strategy is the ruffed grouse. These birds eat the emerging buds from poplar trees and essentually have a never ending, easily accessible supply of food all winter long.