There are more mammals on The Preserve than one might imagine! Stay tuned as we add more photos and facts about the warm-blooded creatures that call BHNP home!
Beavers show intent of recreating their former dam in the Preserve’s wetlands where building lodges in the resulting ponds would protect against predators and grant waterborne access to food. Water lilies, sedges, pondweed, and tree bark could then fill their stomachs. Although monogamous and territorial, they sometimes share their lodges with muskrats; nevertheless, unlike muskrats, beavers store food for the winter.
Interesting sighting on the Lakemoore bridge tonight (1/9/14) around 7 p.m.: a full grown beaver was hanging out in the middle of the road. As we came up to it in the car, wondering what it was, it figured it better get moving and ambled across the road and disappeared up toward the Mill Trail. No pictures, but keep your eyes open and maybe it will show up again! Beavers are crepuscular, so you're likely to see them at dawn and dusk.
Coyote Sightings On The Rise
In recent weeks (12/9/13) we have had several coyote sightings at the Preserve and in the N.Buckhead neighborhood. Our urban wildlife friends are growing in population and coyotes are just one of many species such as deer, raccoons, beavers and wild turkeys whose populations on the rise. These animals are thriving living off food from our garbage cans, our pet's food and birdseed.
An article in TIME magazine this week noted that the urban deer population is at 32 million! What to do? Urban wildlife is here to stay including coyotes, who are not considered a threat to humans but are actually beneficial as a predator for some of the urban wildlife overpopulation including rats. So, secure your garbage cans! Don't leave bowls of pet food outside and supervise small dogs and cats when they are outside. Learning to live with wildlife is the key to good interspecies cohabitation!
Especially during dawn, twilight, night, or fog, you may find them munching upon grasses, herbs and garden produce in the meadow. In winter, they often resort to bark, twigs, and buds. Perhaps you will locate one of the shallow holes it digs for nesting.
This clever omnivore carries unwary rodents, rabbits, birds, as well as humans’ scraps, either to burrows in creek banks/hillsides or to caches under brush. Unlike gray foxes, reds have white-tipped tails and prefer open country with only moderate cover. It seems that grays have taught some reds to climb trees! Reds are primarily nocturnal in the summer, less so during fall/winter. These beauties pose no threat to humans.
These crepuscular rodents, more closely related to voles than rats, mark territory with musk. Some frequent our pond since they prefer 4’-5’ of still or slow moving water with cattails, water lilies, or bulrushes for their consumption. An occasional sampling of clams, mussels, snails, crayfish, fish or frogs rounds out the menu. Muskrats create burrows in creekbanks or create feeding stations and lodges in ponds.
With flashlight in hand, you may find these solitary, nomadic creatures plodding near our building. As adults, North America’s only marsupial uses its tail less for dangling than as braces and for carrying nesting material to a hollow tree or to a burrow. When fearful, they sometimes roll onto their sides and appear dead. Their omnivorous diet includes carrion.
Traversing creeks like watery highways – typically 2-5 miles daily but up to 26 miles daily – these sociable, non-territorial omnivores of the weasel family leave their burrows in the creekbank in search of fish, crayfish, amphibians, and turtles. Otters sometimes eat muskrats, but co-exist with beavers. Pollution has sharply reduced their numbers.
Southern raccoons neither fatten in fall nor hibernate in winter. With good night vision, acute hearing and dexterous, sensitive fingers, these clever foragers search for amphibians, crayfish, mice, birds’ eggs, insects, corn and fruit – not to mention garbage, bird feeders, and dog food. At night, they may be seen prowling near our building.