Life endures

I’m a wildlife person.  Many of my friends are surely convinced my interest in life is biased more toward animals than people.  Not sure how this part of me developed but my earliest memories are of liking animals, following them around, watching what they do and wondering what their life must be like.  I’m one of those neighbors with the bird feeders, squirrel feeders, hummingbird feeders, etc.  I’d feed the four legged critters around here as well except the golf course people would frown on more hazards in the fareway.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons, not the least because of the victorious feeling I get from bundling up in my high-tech clothing and venturing out to subdue the snow, wind, cold.  Granted we’re all just a few volts and BTU’s from living in a cave trying to survive until spring but the thought of that doesn’t get in the way of my enjoying the season.

So what about animals right now?  They can’t drop by the local REI and pick up an extra layer of fleece or poly.  They have to handle what the climate hits them with through a truly natural means – feather, fur, fat and common sense.  I watch the birds on the deck vacuuming up the seeds, standing on one foot and then the other, all puffed up as they trap as much warmth in their feathers as possible.

White-tail deer browsing in snow

And then there are the deer over at the park.  I’ve read that in full winter coat and nicely fattened, a deer is so well insulated they can lay down on snow and not melt it.  Their winter fur is apparently hollow tubes that hold the air undisturbed next to their bodies, retaining their inner heat against the wind and cold.  The doe in the image was grazing on the tips of pine trees when I pulled up, and she wasn’t that concerned with me while there were calories available.  The snow from the limbs had fallen on her back and showed no sign of melting.  Maybe the story is true and maybe they don’t feel the cold, but it sure seems like a hard time of the year for outside creatures.

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