Snow, Snow, and More Snow: How’s it impacting Bitterroot Birds?

image courtesy of Perry Backus

image courtesy of Perry Backus

As I drive by a Corvallis haystack, several white-tails are munching away at the protein rich food source, barely bothered by my vehicle.

The two-foot snow pack surrounding the haystack is trampled as if 100 school kids had recess. Several deep trails lead to the haystack from the cotton woods in the distance, yet these trails may now be paths to survival in the Bitterroot. Luckily, deer and elk in the valley not lured by haystacks have adapted to survive deep snow by using their snouts and hoofs to clear away snow to reveal grass or browse below.

Most of the valley snow has not reached a height that could significantly impact these large grazers. Other mammals, like foxes and coyotes, use their tremendous sense of hearing to detect mice and voles as those rodents scurry about beneath the snow in a myriad of tunnels that have ample vegetation to feed on.

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Teller Wildlife Refuge