Birds · Mammals

Fishing For Evidence

My plan to entice wildlife into view of my camera, courtesy of the dead crow, was not as successful as I had hoped. However it was interesting and I did get a number of visitors.

WGI_0024deer

Many deer visited, both day and night. Most of the time they were not that interested in the crow, although some did stop to sniff at it as they went by. They seemed more interested in my camera.

WGI_0035deer eye.jpg

It claims to be silent, but I guess it is right in the middle of what was an open space, that they use on a regular basis and not very hidden.

WGI_0022wild turkeys

There were two large gatherings of birds around the crow, but not a crow funeral attended by crows. The wild turkeys came out and seemed to be walking around in a circle around the crow. They did this twice in one day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. It was interesting that this was the only day the wild turkeys were in this area during that week.

WGI_0042grackles

The other bird gathering was of grackles. They didn’t stay long. The camera only caught this one photograph of them. I wonder if seeing the dead crow inspired them to move on quickly to another area.

 

WGI_0023fisher

Perhaps the most interesting visitor was this one. I think it is a fisher, which is almost as elusive as the lynx I was hoping I might see. What I was surprised to find was that it didn’t seem at all interested in the crow. Fishers, like lynx, will scavenge and they prey on roughly the same animals.

Fishers are forest-dwelling creatures. Normally they stay in the forest, but this is right on the edge of the forest and only a few feet away from the forest. Our neighbour has seen them, so we know they are in the area. Apparently they like old growth forests where they can find large trees for denning. That makes our area attractive with our old trees and large amounts of woody debris.

Fishers are only found in North America. They are one of the few animals able to prey successfully on porcupines. They are generalist predators, but their primary prey is snowshoe hare and porcupine. They have even been known to kill lynx. Despite their name, they are not known to eat fish. Their name comes from the word “fitch”, which means a European polecat. However, they are not cats, but are in the weasel family. They also supplement their diet with insects, nuts, berries and mushrooms.

It seems there is little that preys on fishers and humans are their main threat. They were extensively trapped for the fur trade and between 1900 and 1940 they were threatened with near-extinction in the southern part of their range. Over-hunting and loss of forest habitat due to logging and road building has decreased the range where fishers are now found.

Another possibility is that it could be an American mink. I have seen one on the property before, but it was hugging the waterline. Minks look very similar to fishers, but are smaller. Minks are 12-16” head to tail and fishers are 17-31” head to tail. On land it moves with a bounding gate, which I would say describes my image, but I think the size is too big. When I compare the picture of the grackles with this picture, it is much larger and grackles are about 11” in length, so I am inclined to think it is a fisher.

So whilst my cam trained on the dead crow isn’t attracting animals for a meal, I am getting a variety of animals passing that way, so I have left it there for another week. This time I am playing with the video mode. My hope is that I will see more than the one passing shot and be able to identify animals better that way.

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