Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Take a Hike!

Posted by  //  October 23, 2023  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Autumn is perhaps the best time of year to get outdoors, as the biting bugs have retreated along with the heat and humidity.  So why not lace up your walking shoes and go take a hike!  What might you see?

Unlike certain frogs and toads that crawl beneath rotting logs and leaves for the winter or burrow backwards into the ground to hibernate, Leopard Frogs (photo) require aquatic habitats to overwinter.  Within the sanctuary of a lake or pond, their respiration rate gradually decreases, and they sink to the bottom to spend the cold months in a state of torpor.

A few Red Maple trees remain dressed in eye-catching foliage.  Look closer and you’ll discover that the changing color begins at the leaf tips and works inward to the stem.  The receding green is due to the trees pulling nutrients back into their stems and stopping production of chlorophyll for the year.  

While most bird species have flown south, some are lingering.  Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Carolina Wrens, Song Sparrows, Northern Flickers, Brown Creepers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets are still being observed.  Just this morning, I saw an Eastern Towhee in my backyard. 

Monarch butterflies often look especially red in fall.  The deep hue is likely indicative of the butterfly’s robust health and reflects stronger flying, longer-lived individuals with more fat reserves.  Such particularly vibrant butterflies also tend to attract more mates.  All of these qualities are of special importance to late-season Monarchs beginning their arduous journey to Mexico.

Article & photo by Margie Manthey

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