Posted by: atowhee | October 3, 2017


The fall rains have softened the soil and loosed the creative urgings of the underground engineers who populate Joe Dancer Park.

Fresh dark earthen mounds and lines of miniature moraines mark the movings and makings of many moles.  They leave few exit holes as much of their life is spent underground, including their meals.  They are not a superficial creature.  Altogether I would term the landscape they’ve engineered to be hole-y mole-y.

The rodents create trafficways in the surface turf, punctuated with numerous holes about the diameter of a golf ball.  Now that grass is dying back or closely mowed you can see the transport system they put in place beneath last winter’s snows.

Nature has plenty of engineers at her command.   Some termites who may the greatest mound builders since Cahokia.  Beaver who are hydrology experts and have created many flood plains across America.  Badger and groundhog and prairie dog have all perfected their own subway systems and subterranean living.  Then there are the Belding’s ground squirrels who spend most of their life asleep, in some earthy sub-basement, surrounded by mounds of hay they’ve brought down from the surface.  They would not deign to appear during hot days or drought or winter…so at 4000’ elevation in eastern Oregon, they mostly sleep.

Perhaps the best digger among Oregon birds: the high-hipped Burrowing Owl.BUROWL ON GRNDBelow rodent trails and holes in Joe Dancer turf:IMG_8750IMG_8751Below: mole subways along sidewalk, then dumps excess soil out of the way where it won’t bother the mole.  He doesn’t eat grass but is a predator (like the badger) who finds his food underground.  Earthworm horror.IMG_8756makin' hayRodent-made entry with signs of nearby hay harvesting, above.  Below: two Belding’s ground squirrel during their brief spring activity season.AL12_0063workBadger


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