Every day is a great day for photographing, sketching or just watching wildlife, whether it is on the park, in your own backyard, or a new place you might like to explore. This is especially true in June, July and August as this time of year when almost all the creatures of the wild are beginning the process of raising their young.
Western Pennsylvania has a population explosion of wildlife babies born every spring usually beginning in April and lasting until the end of June. That means that by late spring and early summer most young wildlife get their early life experiences and first look at the world that surrounds them. This makes it a perfect time for nature discovery for all ages.
All of us love to watch new baby birds leaving their nests for the first time, baby bunnies, raccoons, squirrels or opossums exploring away from their mothers, or maybe the little fawn awkwardly following mom along a forest edge. Wildlife mothers are not like human mothers, as they will leave their nests or homes for several hours at a time. There are usually two reasons for this. The first is that they need to search for food and the other is to teach their young survival instincts.
To me, this year seems to have fostered a baby boom on Presque Isle. Young of foxes, raccoons, owls and swans are common this year. You also might run into baby birds, bunnies, snakes, opossums, deer, ducks and many more. However, if you find young alone in the wild, do not assume that their parents have abandoned them. What you might not see is that mom or dad is watching from afar just out of your sight. Some babies, like rabbits, are very small and look weak to us, but are actually old enough to be out on their own. Baby rabbits normally leave their nest at a very young age, so finding a small cottontail that cannot run very fast does not mean it needs to be rescued.
If you find a young animal on Presque Isle or anywhere in the wild, observe them, see how they move, eat and make sounds. Are they anything like human
babies? You should resist the temptation to pick up these little creatures and take them out of the “harsh world” to care for them in our “safe” homes. This is not a good idea. Most captured young wild animals die in this “safe” environment, because we cannot give them what they need to survive.
For example, young fawns are commonly found lying quietly on the ground with no mother in sight. This is normal. A doe will leave her fawns hidden for most of the day while she goes off to browse for food. Normally, young fawns will not move until their mother returns. Many times they will let people walk right up to them. These fawns do not need to be rescued. Mother will return.
Animal life on the park is varied, abundant and fun to attempt to observe. What might you see? That depends on where you are, what season it is, and what time of day you are looking. Here is a short list of animals and creatures seen on Presque Isle
Small Birds (many species) Wild Turkeys Foxes
Waterfowl and shorebirds Coyotes Weasels
Turkey Buzzards Reptiles (snakes, lizards, salamanders)
Frogs and toads Beavers Muskrats
Rabbits Deer Minks
Eagles Hawks Woodchucks
Turtles Fish Dragonflies
If I could leave you with one important message about the park’s wildlife, it is this, “Leave wild things wild”. Wild animals, epically young animals, may look cute but they will never make good pets. While young animals may appear to be easily picked-up, you should not do this. Usually the parents are watching quietly and cautiously from nearby cover.
A last comment is that when you explore Presque Isle for animals and plants, be persistent. Do not be disappointed if you do not get to observe the animals you were hoping to see. Appreciate the many other natural events, plants or animals you do see. It helps if you learn to recognize the signs which many animals leave behind such as a twig nipped cleanly off at an angle, a small sapling with bark rubbed off, an empty nut shell with tiny tooth marks and many other signs which can give you clues to the types of wildlife that were her before you arrived.
See you on the park!!
This post was written by admin