Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Hidden Kingdom of Subnivia


It was a nice day for a woods walk Sunday, January 20. There were just patches of snow on the ground and the temperatures were in the upper forties, maybe lower fifties. Subnivia had all but disappeared. 

Christmas Ferns (pictured above) were about the only green in the woods, except for some moss growing on old tree stumps. The Christmas Ferns, however, are hardy, carefree and native plants which have a lot of possibilities for homeowners who have shady and wet spots in the yard - Christmas Fern.

On the mid-January walk, we discovered the newest woodpecker tree. It appears the holes were all freshly made, particularly the bottom hole.

The following day, 1.21.13, there was about six inches of snow and it was coming down hard – Subnivia was thriving once again.

The forecast are predicting upwards of two feet of snow within the next 48 hours. More pictures of the woodpecker tree after the storm passes; currently on 1.22 it is a mere 2 degrees, there is about two feet of snow here and another foot expected tonight and tomorrow.

Dead trees are an important resource and provide both food and shelter for many insects and small animals. Some birds, such as blue birds, will use the cavities pounded out by the woodpeckers for nesting. Squirrels will also use the holes to store food. A dead tree in a woods is actually a hub of activity and can improve the quality of life in the hidden world of Subnivia

Nearby, we are building another and the newest brush pile. A brush pile provides even more protection, shelter and serves as a food source for many small animals, insects and birds particularly in the winter months. The plan is to finish the pile before spring weather arrives and then to plant wild grape vines along the edges and maybe some other flowering vines that can take some shade.

The brush is from a tree that blew over last summer and was cut for firewood. The ashes are then used in the vegetable garden and around a variety of trees, shrubs and perennials. Wood ashes are a valuable resource.

Brush piles also enhance the “under-the-snow” existence of the inhabitants of a hidden world, called “Subnivia”. This hidden and somewhat temperate kingdom exists underneath the snow and the dead brush, fallen branches and trees, as well as old stumps and rocks help to form an under-the-snow passage system for many small animals such as shrews, moles, mice, and a wide variety of insects. Learn some more about Subnivia.

Full Wolf Moon

The first Full Moon of 2013, called the Full Wolf Moon, will be on the evening of January 26. Six days later, the groundhog in Punxsutawney, PA ((Phil) will make his official forecast about the end of winter. Perhaps, wolves will eat woodchucks when they venture out of their holes, but so did people. Learn more about a groundhog meat company and that famous groundhog, Phil.
If your searching for some good winter reading, go to http://www.samhosslerwriter.com/authors-page.html
Sam's books are enjoyable and while fiction, are based in historical facts in northwestern PA. Special note of thanks to Sam for the permission to use his wolf picture which is actually the book cover for a three part series the Silversmith Chronicles. The series is about werewolves – naturally.

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