Thursday, April 13, 2006

Adirondack Critters

Mark has been keeping the woods camera in operation. Depending upon the bait he has set out there could be ravens, deer, fox, fisher or nothing. Pretty often it’s nothing. This last week he got a fisher coming in on April 9th and the 11th.From the time stamps, it looks like the critter was there 5:25 PM on the 9th, 12:33 AM, 12:58 AM, 6:49 AM, 10:28 AM and 10:35 AM on the 11th. Looks like the fisher is a local and really enjoyed what ever the bait dujour was for this week.

SUNY-ESF has a web site with a description of the (Martes pennanti Erxleben) and its habits.
The fisher prefers mature coniferous and mixed forests with thick overhead cover, and avoids openings such as logged areas, especially in winter. Unlike the marten, the fisher may also use deciduous forests, including dense second-growth stands. Seasonal changes in habitat use may occur, with some fishers leaving high elevations to spend the winter in conifer swamps and lowland conifer forests.
That pretty much describes the forest around Mark and my cabins and with several thousand acres of state “Forever Wild” land to the north of my place, there’s plenty of room for the fisher to roam.
The fisher is an opportunistic omnivore, eating large quantities of seeds and fruits such as beechnuts, black cherries, and mountain ash berries when seasonally abundant. However, snowshoe hares, voles, mice, red squirrels, flying squirrels, and shrews make up the bulk of the diet. The fisher hunts by running back and forth over an area, and then rushing and biting prey that it flushes.
With a diet like that, I would gladly encourage a fisher to live in the neighborhood. Voles, mice, red squirrels I can do without.
The fisher is most active at twilight, but alternates periods of activity lasting 2-5 hours with bouts of resting or sleeping in temporary dens as it travels throughout a large area. In a 24 hour period, the fisher travels about 1.5-3.0 km (1-2 mi), but may cover 30 km (19 mi), for example when searching for mates. Fishers are active at all times of the year except during severe winter storms when they stay in their dens until the arrival of milder weather.
This might explain why the critter on camera appeared at such varied times.

And this little tidbit makes the appearance of this particular individual very interesting.
In March or April, the female bears 1-6 (average 2 or 3) young which at birth are blind and covered with fine, gray fur. The female spends most of her time with the newborn young, leaving them for no more than 2-3 hours each day. As the young mature, the female spends more time foraging, traveling directly to the boundaries of her home range to hunt. By 49 days of age, the eyes of the young open, and they are weaned by about 4 months of age. The young disperse in autumn or early winter.
Our visitor is obviously and adult. It was also photographed early in the winter, so it’s range includes my backyard. If it is a female, it might have a den nearby and, perhaps, may be caring for some young. Time to keep the camera set up during June when the little ones would be out and about after their eyes are open. They won’t be weaned until around the end of August.

We have our own pictures:
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Fisher poses for the camera.

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Nosing around for food. “It was here last evening.”

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“That food’s got to be here somewhere!”

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“Phew! Six more hours doesn’t make this stuff smell any better!”

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“It’s 10:30 on a sunny morning and that fish is really, really ripe!”

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“But, darn it, I’m goin’ to eat it anyway!”

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