What will birds and other animals do for food, now that we’re entering the long winter months?
They’ll still be foraging for protein in the form of insects, but the supply will be much less plentiful than in the warmer months when many more insects are active. Ground feeders will forage among the fallen leaves, while others will investigate branches and probe bark crevices of trees and shrubs for a meal.
Ripe fruit will also help sustain resident winter animals. On a recent visit to Spring Lake at the Abbott Marshlands, from a single spot where the land meets the marsh, we found a bounty of food, including the hips of Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris),
open legumes of Groundnut (Apios americana), a pea family member,
ripe drupes of Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum),
the berry-like drupes of Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata),
and a cascade of Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) fruit capsules.
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) fluttered in the breeze a bit further down the trail.
A mixed flock of migrating Red-winged and Rusty Blackbirds paused in the bare branches of trees overlooking the feast, to rest and refuel before continuing their journey.
Rhoads, Ann Fowler; Block, Timothy A. The Plants of Pennsylvania. 2007