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Groundhogs, Woodchucks, and Marmots

I am re-posting this as a belated Groundhog Day post:

Groundhogs, Woodchucks, and Marmots

2/3/15

Woodchucks, otherwise known as Groundhogs, are actually a type of Marmot. Woodchucks and Marmots are classified as rodents, in the same family as squirrels, and actually look rather like large, roly-poly squirrels. The Woodchuck is a solitary animal that lives mainly in the eastern and central states, Canada, and part of Alaska. They can weigh from 4.5 – 14 pounds. Marmots are generally more sociable and some of them live in colonies and/or hibernate together. They live mainly in the mountainous western U.S., Canada, and Alaska, and can weigh from 5 – 20 pounds.  There are many different kinds of Marmots, such as the Yellow-bellied Marmot, the Hoary Marmot, and the Olympic Marmot. Woodchucks and Marmots eat different types of grass, green plants, and fruit. Because of their special diet, they are not able to find food in the winter, as they do not store food like squirrels and do not eat twigs and buds like rabbits do. Instead they hibernate for many months at a time, up to half the year, depending on location. Even though some people do not like the holes in the ground that Woodchucks make, their digging activities can actually be beneficial to farmers, because it aerates the soil.

The fact that the Woodchuck is not found in the West, as well as the fact that the winters there are usually warmer, are probably at least part of the reason why Groundhog Day is more popular in the East. Groundhog Day (February 2nd) is roughly halfway between winter and spring. Legend has it that the Groundhog will emerge from its burrow on this day and if it sees its shadow (sunny weather), the Groundhog will become scared and run back in its burrow, therefore predicting six more weeks of winter. However, if it does not see its shadow (cloudy weather), it will stay outside and there will be an early spring.  There are many regional weather-predicting Groundhogs across the U.S. and Canada.  For instance, every year Woody the Woodchuck gives her annual prediction at the Howell Nature Center in Howell, Michigan. The problem is, they are only accurate about half the time or less, since it is hard to see how the weather on Feb 2 would really impact a weather pattern six weeks in the future. Another issue is that in much of their range, they are still hibernating and would not be coming out of their burrows until March or April, on account of their being nothing for them to eat. However, it does not stop people from having a lot of fun on Groundhog Day. One of the best things is it gives some publicity to a rather shy animal that not a whole lot of people see, since Woodchucks and Marmots usually run to their burrows at the first sign of disturbance.

Here are some websites to visit:

For more information on Woodchucks:
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog

For more information on the history of Groundhog Day, as well as a list of weather-predicting Groundhogs throughout the U.S. and Canada:
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day

For more information on the Yellow-bellied Marmot:
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow-bellied_Marmot

For more information on Woody the Woodchuck:
http://www.howellnaturecenter.org

Reference:

John O. Whitaker, Jr., National Audubon Society Guide to North American Mammals (New York: Chanticleer Press, 1996).

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Beautiful Day on Lake

Little Wolf Lake, Michigan

Little Wolf Lake, Michigan

This is a photo I took some years ago of a lake in Michigan.  It was a beautiful sunny day, with just a few clouds in the sky.  There is a small campground by the lake, and there are often ducks and geese as well.

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Groundhogs, Woodchucks, and Marmots

This is my post from last year, I am rebloging it for those of you who missed it.

studio blue spruce

Groundhogs, Woodchucks, and Marmots

2/3/15

Woodchucks, otherwise known as Groundhogs, are actually a type of Marmot. Woodchucks and Marmots are classified as rodents, in the same family as squirrels, and actually look rather like large, roly-poly squirrels. The Woodchuck is a solitary animal that lives mainly in the eastern and central states, Canada, and part of Alaska. They can weigh from 4.5 – 14 pounds. Marmots are generally more sociable and some of them live in colonies and/or hibernate together. They live mainly in the mountainous western U.S., Canada, and Alaska, and can weigh from 5 – 20 pounds.  There are many different kinds of Marmots, such as the Yellow-bellied Marmot, the Hoary Marmot, and the Olympic Marmot. Woodchucks and Marmots eat different types of grass, green plants, and fruit. Because of their special diet, they are not able to find food in the winter, as they do not store food…

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!

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Tea Review: Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Gardens

Tea Review: Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Gardens Green Tea
10/28/14

Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Gardens Green Tea is a mild tasting green tea with a bright red color with the flavor of hibiscus and raspberry.  I am not sure if they still make this tea anymore, but it is a really nice combination of green and herbal, if you can find it.

Ingredients: Green Tea, Hibiscus, Blackberry Leaves, Natural Raspberry Flavor with Other Flavors, Roasted Chicory, and Raspberries (contains soy lecithin)

Caffeine per 8-oz. cup: 15 mg

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Where do you see squirrels?

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Gray Squirrels
10/16/14

Gray Squirrels can often be found high in the canopy of a tree.  They often cut green acorns in the late summer.  They have a very bushy tail that they use to cover themselves with and stay warm, to sheild them from rain, and for balance when jumping from tree to tree.  Gray Squirrels come in two color variations: gray with a tinge of other colors such as brown or white, and black( sometimes with a tinge of brown).  There are both western and eastern forms of Gray Squirrels, and some less commonly known varieties: Abert’s Squirrel, otherwise known as the “tassel-eared squirrel”, the Arizona Gray Squirrel, and the Mexican Gray Squirrel. The Fox Squirrels (both the Eastern Fox Squirrel and the Mexican Fox Squirrel) are in the same Gray Squirrel family, but they are somewhat larger and have more of a brownish coloration. Generally they prefer deciduous or mixed forests for their acorns, but can also be seen in many city parks and backyards.  When they find acorns, they can be seen digging a hole in the ground, and then sticking the acorn in and covering it with dirt.  When they do this it may look like the squirrel is patting the dirt. In the winter and early spring they dig these nuts up and eat them.  They have a loud barking call that they make when they are alarmed, and also various other chattering noises.

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