New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Aaah. Love is in the Air.
Did you know Valentines Day is really the start of love making time in New Hampshire? Yes, love is in the air right now. And just who is making all the love. Well, it's the wild things, silly. Get yourself out into the country right now and you will hear Cupid at work. While you yourself may not spot the little cherub, his work is underway by our owls and coyotes singing their love songs calling out to their special one. Yes, it is mating season for a whole host of wildlife come Valentines Day.
I was reminded of the start of the mating and pairing season just yesterday as I was ice fishing on a local Epsom pond (the secret spot). There dancing in the brilliant blue sky was an obvious pair of crows. Now they might not be laying eggs right now, they are pairing up and selecting nesting sites and such. And owls, well owls, kind of lead this land of love by setting up a nesting site and will soon have two or three eggs in that nest. Same goes for hawks and our Bald eagles. February is the start of the nesting season. And don't the owls hoot to their mate right now. Yes, it's owl hooting time in New Hampshire. And whooo wouldn't hoot to the love of their life. You see our lady owls will be setting on her eggs for about a month to enable her young to hatch just as the young of her pray, think mice and squirrels are out and about too. To get the timing right you have to nest early.
Our Eastern coyote, skunks, foxes and raccoons are all pairing up and mating too. Right now. And it is the coyotes who will be joining the owls with their late-night howls and calls. Yes, love IS in the air. The gestation period for coyotes, skunks and raccoons is about 63 days, with foxes a bit shorter at 53 days. And just like the owls timing is important to bring off your litter when there is an abundance of food, pray, to feed their young. It's all about giving your offspring the best chance at life. Oh, and won't our woods, fields and wetlands be brimming with life come April into early May as fish, fowl, frogs and nearly every living thing here is pouring over the land. The time of the most abundant life in the state.
Now is the time to take your Valentines outside to experience the wonders of the most abundant wildlife New Hampshire has ever had. Maybe you can convince an owl to give you a hoot.
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