Yesterday, we saw our first White-tailed Deer, six healthy looking animals checking out the bird feeders as they crossed our property, heading for the river. In the eight years we have been here, we have regularly seen groups of deer throughout the winter months, often with higher numbers, but this winter, until yesterday, we had only seen the tracks of a lone deer, with what looked like a Coyote’s track following the same route. Since we haven’t had heavy snowfalls, possibly the deer have been staying within the wooded areas of Warsaw Caves rather than touring their regular deer yard. However, last winter was a hard one for the deer, so I am wondering whether their numbers might be down. I think I have read that a female can re-absorb the fetus if she is malnourished due to a difficult winter. Then there is the possibility of an increased population of Coyotes taking their toll on the deer. Have any of your correspondence noted any decline in the local deer population? (NOTE: No, I have not heard of any decline. D.M.)
Back in December, I wrote to you with news that we had 21 Common Redpolls on or below our niger seed feeders. Since then, the numbers have climbed somewhat, varying between 25 and 45, but today, February 6, we counted at least 60. Some of the birds have also shown an interest in our large turning circle after it was gritted, possibly eating some of the gritting mixture, though I don’t know what part of the mix is attracting them.
Some winters we’ve had high numbers of goldfinches, other years the Pine Siskins, but this year, for us, is definitely the winter of the redpolls.