The PEEC campus has been busy with wildlife this month!
Coyotes were heard howling and yipping throughout the night and into the early morning. Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and survive through the cold winter by eating a variety of food. They have been known to eat small mammals, fruits, insects, birds, frogs, snakes, bird eggs, invertebrates and carrion.
Pileated woodpeckers were heard flying through the woods and seen perched on mature trees. Their winter diet consists largely of carpenter ants, which they chisel out of the trees with their powerful bills.
Red-tailed hawks have been seen in plenty - especially with the warmer temperatures of mid-January. PEEC staff have reported seeing a Red-shouldered hawk as well, and we are all hoping that our resident nesting pair will return again this year. Our nearby ponds provide the feeding opportunities they prefer, and their courtship display is a sight to be seen - conspicuous circling flights, accompanied by loud screaming, over their territory.
Wild turkeys were just spotted yesterday, in a group of 20, foraging for fresh blades of grass. In winter, with a lot of snow on the ground, turkeys may fast for up to a week. Their "gobbling" season is triggered by increasing day length and warming temperatures, and the courtship and breeding will begin by March or April.
Signs of Spring are everywhere, even if the calendar doesn't agree quite yet. Groups of Canada geese have been sighted flying at dusk. They are one of the earliest migrants of spring - especially those that have wintered farthest south. Another heralder of warmer temperatures - the Spring Peeper - was heard peeping at a local pond. Although it seems too early for amphibians to be out, a few days of heavy rain and warmer weather must have woken this one up a little early!