In spite of a recent snowstorm, spring-like animal and plant activities continued moving forward, just as atomic clocks did over the weekend, making Sunday a 23-hour day.
A diminutive eastern chipmunk ventured out of its burrow numerous times recently and glared at piles of snow held fast by 20-degree, 6:30 a.m. air temperatures.
This species, described as a hibernator, does awaken every couple weeks to feed on caches of acorns, hickory nuts, corn kernels and hazelnuts. But now that spring is approaching, it opened its hole to the outside along a driveway edge where a plow blade had scraped down into gravel.
It won’t be until May that a litter of three to five pups are born, unless this female delays that birthing until July or August due to her age.
In stark contrast to the whiteness, “chippie” may be easy prey for a hawk, bobcat, weasel, fox, or a feral cat. Because this one remained a few centimeters from its burrow opening, it is likely to be protected prey until the shades of brown, tan and black provide a more perfect camouflage. Still, the animal’s almost constant chatter is likely to catch the ears of those predators this spring.
Another early morning phenomenon provided by deer, dogs, cats, cattle and horses is light reflected from the animals’ reflective surface behind their eyes’ retinas. This surface and its molecules serve another purpose in helping the animals see better in the dark.
While humans, squirrels and pigs’ eyes do not reflect, the other beasts provide us with clues as to the animal behind the glowing eyes. The height above the ground, spacing, color and even the number of eyes (from an animal group) all help to suggest whether we’re seeing deer, coyotes, raccoons or bobcats.
Dawn continues to be filled with cardinals calling, turkeys gobbling, owls hooting and deer bounding across crusty snow.
While turkey hunters are contemplating the first period opening Wednesday, April 18, others have marked March 19, a Monday, when remaining spring turkey permits (now called bonus harvest authorizations) for Zone 1 are on sale beginning at 10 a.m.
This follows with Zone 2 leftovers on Tuesday, Wednesday for Zone 3, Thursday for Zone 4 and zones 5 and 7 on Friday. There are no extra permits for Zone 6. The cost of each permit is $10 for residents; $15 for non-residents. Most permits are for periods E and F, but some remain for periods C and D, too, in some zones.
Beginning Saturday, March 23, and throughout the season, permits for all zones are available on one permit purchase per day. Hunters must have purchased a turkey stamp and license before or at the time of the first bonus permit purchase. Check the DNR website for availability.
Hunting, fishing, sports and conservation patron licenses expire March 31.
The Conservation Congress Spring Hearings will be held in every county Monday, April 9, beginning at 7 p.m. Hearings information can be reviewed on the DNR web site.
Worldwide chronic wasting disease updates include a moose in Finland testing positive, which was the first case in that country. The moose was 15 years old. Norway was the only previous case in a European country. A Wisconsin breeding farm white-tailed deer in Washington County tested positive.
Minnesota Board of Animal Health received a positive test results for CWD after depopulating a Winona County farm. All seven remaining deer were found to have the disease.
One adult doe tested positive for CWD in Iowa, the first hunter-harvested wild deer outside of northeast Iowa.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease of white-tailed deer, mule deer (all varieties), elk (and red deer), moose and caribou (reindeer).
Spring officially begins Tuesday, March 20, the same day crow hunting season closes.
Now that high temperatures hover near normal, watch for more green shows in grasses, mosses, ferns, and red cedar trees and shrubs going from rust-colored needles to dark green.