Wildlife Still Active

First, a correction to my last post: Although we got a solid inch of snow, Denver proper did not. We are 800 feet higher than Denver, and frequently get precipitation when they don’t. The take-home? Denver has blown past the previous record for latest snow fall, with no relief in sight. As of November 30, 2022, it has been 223 days since our last official snowfall. And counting.

What this means for wildlife is that they are still moving around when they are normally settling down for a long winter’s nap. I saw evidence of the animal’s continued activity this morning.

Honeybee zooming towards a rosemary plant in bloom.

Several — not a lot, but more than should be out at this time of year — honeybees were visiting the rosemary plants I have in pots on the back deck. Over the course of the hour I watched them, there was always one bee around.

Honeybee gathering pollen and nectar from rosemary plant.

I’m glad that I’ve still got the rosemary outside, and it is still blooming for the bees. But I do wonder what this is doing to plant and animal species.

Animals respond to cold by migrating, hibernating or just toughing it out. This year, more animals will opt to tough it out, putting more pressure on the dormant plants.

It’s been dry, so most native plants have called it quits for the season. That means that they are not growing. Growing plants are nutritious plants, as well as replacing the biomass that the animals eat. So the animals are getting a diminishing amount of forage of diminishing quality.

This happens every year. But this year, it will happen for longer — a record-breaking amount longer.

The animals will be okay with a mild winter — probably more of them will survive even if they won’t be in great shape. But it means that plants will be in worse condition than normal when they start growing again. The warm fall will push out plants that can’t handle the drought and grazing.

Published by Amy Law

Amy Law is a science geek. She feels about science the way some people feel about music, or art, or sports – a total and complete emotional connection. She thinks in science. For Amy, there’s nothing better than helping people see the beauty of science as she does. She loves to untangle a complicated subject into its parts, explaining it so that anybody can understand what’s happening. Let her show you her world...

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