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Avg. High: 66° F
Avg. Low: 39° F
Max. High: 90° F (1962)
Min. Low: -2° F (1917)
Avg. Precip: 1.49"
Max. Precip: 6.04" (1942)
Average Snow: 5.1"
Max. Snow: 49.3" (1969)
Max Wind: 100
White Aster sp.
Yellow-bellied Marmots spend late summer and early fall days munching on plants and basking in the sun as they prepare for a six-month nap. These burly rodents inhabit every life zone in
Oh, for the life of a marmot. Six months nibbling on succulent wildflowers and sunning under the blue alpine sky, and six months sleeping in a snug burrow. Except for a few problems with predators--including Golden Eagles, Coyotes, and Badgers--it seems too good to be true.
Our Yellow-bellied Marmots may double their weight in summer as they feast on grasses and wildflowers, including dandelions, cow parsnips, bluebells, and cinquefoils. They usually enter hibernation in October. During winter torpor their body temperature falls to around 40° F and their pulse slows to four or five beats per minute. They emerge in April, refreshed and ready for another summer of munching and sunbathing.
Social obligations do complicate their day. A typical marmot colony consists of a dominant male, several subdominant females, and young of the year. Marmots that don't belong to a large colony may live singly or in small groups, and some may mate monogamously. Colonial marmots communicate through whistling, screaming, and tooth chattering (to signal aggression). They also scent mark with cheek glands and engage in social play, grooming, and fighting. Sentries keep a lookout for predators, allowing the rest of the colony to forage in relative peace.
Yellow-bellied Marmots (Marmota flaviventris) are closely related to the legendary Woodchuck (M. monax) of the eastern
Astronomy events can be found at http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-current.html
October 31: Samhain (Hallomass).
At the onset of the Celtic year, the final fruits of summer wither away and winter begins. During this dying time the gates open between the spirit worlds, allowing the dead to walk among us. Spirits of the dead are invited to family feasts and encouraged to warm themselves by the fire while sharing honey, sweet cakes, and beer. Samhain means "summer's end."
Photo credits: Steve Jones, except White Aster: Tim Hogan
Read Ruth Carol Cushman and Stephen Jones's Nature Almanac column in the Daily Camera "Get Out" section the first Friday of each month.
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