Friday, March 3, 2017

Burning the Bottomground: Feb. 21, 2017

  We burned the Creek Field and the Road Field on Feb. 21, 2017.   
     Al and Jeff took charge and did an expert job, as always.

 Before the smoke had cleared, hawks and eagles lined the field.  

These carnivorous birds have stayed around or revisited every day for the two weeks following the burn.   Here are some of the raptors that came to dine:

Birds aren't the only predators that visited:

A coyote is cousin to smoke itself.

Attracting the raptors and the coyotes were the rodents that are normally hidden in the thatch. 

Here is a clip of some of the rodent runs which the burn laid bare:

The superb mammologist Drew Ricketts tells me that golf-ball sized holes are made by voles; bigger ones are made by cotton rats.  
Runs smaller than 2" wide are vole-runs; bigger runs are made by cotton rats.

Songbirds also find the newly burned field a wonderful smorgasbord!  Here are some of the little birds that did some serious eating:

Right after the burn, seeds and insects were unusually accessible.

I had been so worried that a February burn would be hard on birds.  So many winter residents spend the cold nights in the bottomground thatch.  But the cool burn left lots of thatch.  And as the clips above show, the burned fields turned into giant bird feeders, and a coyote feeder, too.  

Fire--and then feast.