Gilford Public Library

  Catalog     Website  
Gilford Public Library

  Catalog     Website  

Love Is Definitely in The Air!Feeding the Birds & Not the Bears

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 2/21/2023


Valentine’s Day has passed, but love is definitely in NH’s air, as some of our wild animals are in the midst of courting and mating season. 


February is the kick-off for nesting season including owls, hawks and eagles. During the night, you can hear the songs of coyotes and owls serenading for future sweet hearts. Foxes, raccoons and skunks are also in the midst of finding mates.

Having their young early in the year ensures they will be able and ready to hunt for prey which emerge from below the snow, dens and nests in spring.



To discover more from the wonderful NH biologist Eric Orff:

What's Wild in NH: New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Under the Snow

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 2/14/2023

Beneath the seemingly quiet serenity of a winter landscape, lies a whole underworld of activity in the Subnivean Zone. This microhabitat is made up of hollow air spaces between the packed snow and bare ground. The word subnivean comes from the Latin “sub” (under) and “nives” (snow).


Several factors play into the creation of this underworld habitat. Early snowfalls in the fall sometimes don’t make contact with the ground instead attaching to plants and rocks. The warmth of the ground causes the initial layer of snow to become water vapor. Once the water vapor freezes, it connects to the higher layer of snow ( a process called sublimation) which creates both a roof and spaces for shelter. These can eventually become an extensive system of tunnels for creatures like voles, deer mice, moles, shrews, and spiders to find food, storage places and shelter safe from above ground predators like coyotes, foxes and owls. A smorgasbord of food is readily available from the bark, grass, insects, leaves and seeds under the snow.



To discover more:

The Subnivean Zone

The Subnivean Zone: The World Beneath the Snow

Six More Weeks of Winter?

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 2/7/2023

Last week Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on February 2nd but where did this legend come from?

Here are some fun facts about the day:

  1. It evolved from a religious and light celebration called Candlemas. derived from when people used animals to determine the weather. English and German Catholics used badgers, but when the Germans migrated to Pennsylvania, the lack of badgers resulted in the choice of woodchucks.
  2. There is a reason Groundhog’s Day is on the 2nd. It falls midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, a good viewpoint to determine what comes next.
  3. The renowned Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the weather since 1887. Yet, its predictions have been accurate for only about 39% of the time.
  4. There is some science behind this special day. While Woodchucks are true hibernators, they emerge from their dens, more to rekindle the “romance” with their partners. Mating occurs in March and the young are born in April.



To discover more:

Groundhog Day: History & Facts

How accurate are Punxsutawney Phil's Groundhog Day forecasts?

Groundhog day


For the kids:

Groundhog & Groundhog's Day Facts for Kids

Tiny but Mighty Hunters: Sharp-Shinned Hawks- Part 2

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 1/31/23


Sharp-shinned hawks are agile fliers and small, (9.4-13.4 inches) with long tails and short, rounded wings. The males are slightly larger than a blue jay, while the females, like eagles and other raptors, can be up to a third larger. This size differentiation does have an impact on the prey they can catch. 


Both parents will feed their nestlings, but the males will typically be the first “responders”, with smaller prey. One unusual but typical behavior is the males will remove and eat the head of their prey before delivering to the babies. 


As the nestlings grow, the mother hawk will deliver larger prey. Initially, both parents drop the dead prey into the nest, but once the young have fledged, the parents will continue to feed them for several weeks. At this time, they now begin to deliver the food in flight. They will call to the young and the fledged young will fly up to grab their food out of their parents claws.



To discover more:

Sharp-shinned Hawk


For the kids:

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Tiny but Mighty Hunters: Sharp-Shinned Hawks- Part 1

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 1/24/23


An unusual lack of activity on our deck and at our feeders had us wondering why. Until we spotted the reason.


Waiting for “breakfast” was a small hawk, patiently sitting on a bar. We were surprised to learn it was a Sharp-shinned hawk, the smallest of hawks in both Canada and the U.S. These swift fliers are quite secretive and hard to spot, unless during migration where they can fly in large groups. It was unusual to spot one this time of year as the birds who reside and breed in the northeast U.S. and Canada, usually leave their breeding grounds and migrate south, as far as Central America.


Sharp-shinned hawks are agile fliers, who can easily fly through dense forests, surprising their prey which are usually songbirds or small mammals like mice. The females, like other raptors and owls, can be up to 1/3 larger and generally go after larger prey.


For more information:

Sharp-shinned Hawk