20 • 12 • 2017

Forest Animals in December

IMG 5667

One of the warmest years ever recorded is coming to its end. This year, we in Latvia did not lack precipitation either. How do animals behave in this atypically warm December?

In winters, the small birds such as tits and long-tailed tits like to live in a company. A couple of nuthatches and tree creepers also join the company of tits from time to time, and also woodpeckers, most often lesser spotted woodpeckers and great spotted woodpeckers, stay nearby.

liela zilite IMG 2844

In turn, the black woodpecker which stands out with its loud behaviour in the winter silence chooses to live alone. Usually they can be seen and heard in forests and other areas covered by large trees.

Birds of prey are most likely spotted in open areas. The common buzzard is the most commonly seen predator during this season of the year. They like to sit on poles and in other higher places in open areas. Plenty of  hooded crows can also be spotted here and there.

dizraibais dzenis IMG 7383

As we all know, December is the time when days are the shortest. It is only natural that nocturnal animals are now better off, because there is a lot of time for them to look for feed, but it may not be enough for diurnal animals. That is why people will notice more and more birds looking for feed by their windows. Usually these are great tits and bluetits, as well as a couple of sparrows and pigeons.

Not only at night, but also during the light hours of the day, wild boars, who are typical nocturnal animals, plan further journeys. It's their mating time. Other even-toed ungulates, unless they are frightened by people or wolves, mostly do not go on wandering.

stirna IMG 2472 1

Both the white-chested hedgehog and the common hedgehog, all dormice (garden dormice, forest dormice, fat dormice, common or hazel dormice) already since autumn are deep in their winter sleep, just like bats who have not flown away to the warmer lands: the brown long-eared bat, the northern bat, the barbastelle, the whiskered bat, the pond bat, and others.

Badgers, raccoons and bears will also spend the winter half asleep; however, footprints indicate that raccoons have not hibernated yet, and also some badgers are still relatively active. From time to time, they get out of their dens to look for something to eat.

meza cauna IMG 0481

Beavers leave very unusual and unique footprints. This is the time when most of the beavers live in families consisting of both parents and their descendants, born this year and previous year: animals of three different ages live together.

Beavers are currently very busy. During the dark hours of the day, they can be heard, while in the daylight you can see the result of their hard work - fresh trails, nibbled-off trees and branches.

Beaver's main natural enemies - wolves - now live in packs, unless hunters have frightened, scattered or shot them.

Except for fish and lamprey, all vertebrate animals whose body temperature depends on the surrounding environment, namely, amphibians, reptiles, have long been sleeping in their winter hideouts. This however does not apply to the common frog - the only amphibian, which retains some activity in the winter, spending it under water.