The frantic business of raisingbabies is evident everywhere you look this time of year. From fish to salamanders to birds to bears; all energy is focused on propagating the species. From mid-May through the end of June, white-tailed deer will be dropping their fawns. During the first months of life, baby deer are covered with white spots on a reddish- brown background. When they are standing in the middle of a green field, it’s hard to understand why Nature would favor such a color scheme, but what’s obvious against green grass becomes invisible in the dappled sunlight and organic shades of brown within the forest.
Wild turkey hens are shepherding their broods around the park. The first few weeks are a dangerous time for a baby turkey; nearly every predator in the forest wants to make them a snack and the possibility of a cold, hard rain can easily wipe out a whole generation of birds. As they quickly grow and develop hard feathers, young turkeys (called poults) become less vulnerable and more likely to survive and perpetuate the species. Later in the summer, hens will consolidate their remaining poults into large nursery flocks with several moms keeping watch and teaching the youngsters how to find food, avoid predators, find shelter and do other turkey-like things.
Songbirds of many colors and stripes have hatched out babies of their own and though it’s very difficult to find the nests of these musical migrants, the parents are easy to spot as they zip around the forest in search of insects and spiders to feed their hungry nestlings.
Walking quietly along the lakeshore, you might look down into the clear water and spot a round divot of sand or small stone and a single fish treading in the middle. These are the nests of bluegills and bass, with the females protecting their eggs or young fry.
Early morning and early evening hikes are best to see the most animal activity during the months of May and June so be sure to make time to come see the show. Hope to see you out on the trail!