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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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home : outdoors : outdoor news June 25, 2016

11/24/2012 7:30:00 AM
From the archives of Ced Vig's wisconsin Woodsmoke
Snow! That wonderful stuff
By Ced Vig
Wisconsin Woodsmoke

Editor's Note: Naturalist Ced Vig wrote a weekly outdoors column for this newspaper for many years before he passed away in the fall of 2010. With the blessing of his family, we are republishing excerpts from some of his much-loved columns. We hope our readers enjoy a taste of Ced's wit and wisdom.

Did you know that most snowflakes are 90 percent air? That makes for great insulation qualities - nature's most protective blanket. Soil with a snow cover may be 50 degrees warmer than the air above it.

A snow blanket is important for nature's little critters such as voles and mice who travel through snow tunnels in search of food and remain hidden from the eyes of predators. These small animals live on plant and stored food.

Generally, 10 inches of snow will melt down to one inch of water. It is difficult for an individual to see a single snowflake for each flake is extremely small and fragile. The flake may melt from the heat of your breath when you approach it. Some flakes that fall like fat coins may contain as many as 100 individual snowflakes, each one changed as they collide with one another.

Feed the Chickadees

Chickadees and nuthatches are the most common visitors at our feeders this November, eating both suet and sunnies. I have read that chickadees require 150 sunflower seeds or its equivalent every day - 250 seeds in extreme cold weather. A Wisconsin researcher discovered that the chickadees generally get one-fourth of their food from the feeders - the remainder from natural sources, especially insect forms found in the crevices of tree trunks. However, on very cold days, the food at the feeder can't be the difference between life or death for the chickadee.

Like Cows, Mourning Doves and Pigeons Produce Milk

A flock of mourning doves are at the feeder - eating cracked corn. They visit the water bath and feeding area several times a day. Mourning doves are the most abundant doves in North American and the most widely hunted and harvested game bird. Their flesh is most tasty.

The mourning doves like to hang around the bird bath. They drink water like a horse - suck it up. I also notice that they have the filthy habit of defecating in the water, resulting in my changing the water daily.

Both males and females produce milk-like food in their crops. Crop milk is very nutritious. The milk contains more fats and proteins than does cow or human milk. The squabs are fed milk for about two weeks by both sexes.

The female has an even brown color on head and neck. The male has a light gray crown and iridescent sides on its neck. Young doves are known as squabs. Mourning doves have fleshy feet which are easily frostbitten during winter. A few may lose all of their toes. If they can find food, they will remain all year round.

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