Deer numbers seem to be up, as it's common to see 3 deer together, in the same sorts of locations I observed the turkey. At one place just before Timbo, we counted 10 together, peacefully grazing out in the open meadow. After the ice storm damage of Jan. 2009, there's lots of cover for safe and hidden nurseries, with so many downed branches. The woods are a tangle of dried limbs, dangerous for potential forest fires, but great cover for a fawn to lie hidden while its mother grazes.
The forest canopy has been opened up from all the broken tree tops, so sunlight is more abundant. The effects upon plant life will become apparent after a number of months and years. The species that enjoy sun will grow in numbers and shade lovers might decline. Adaptation is the name of the game in the natural world. When climatic conditions change, whole ecosystems change in response.
I recently saw a program on PBS about how the wintering habitat of monarch butterflies is threatened by logging in Mexico. Their migration over thousands of miles is a fact of life only recently discovered. All along their route they seek food plants to carry them through to where they have been safe for the winter over perhaps thousands of years.
One glorious fall I was able to observe an amazing bunch of monarchs in my garden, feasting on Liatris aspera, a native plant in the Ozarks. Several other species grow here, but this one blooms in the fall, just in time for these lovely butterflies to stop in for a snack.
The activities of humankind make a difference in the natural world. We've seen the bald eagle come back from extinction. The otter has been reintroduced from Arkansas into surrounding states where they had formerly lived. Add turkeys, elk, deer, bear, to name a few come-backs in Arkansas. We can promote life, protect our fellow residents of planet earth, and have a richer, more beautiful experience as we travel the web of life here on Earth. Watch and learn how other life forms adapt. Perhaps we can learn from their example.
- photos by Sue