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May Nature Almanac Shows:
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Avg. High: 69° F
Avg. Low: 44° F
Max. High: 95° F (2000)
Min. Low: 20° F (1907)
Avg. Precip: 2.98"
Max. Precip: 9.59" (1995)
Average Snow: 1.5"
Max. Snow: 26.7(1931)"
Max Wind: 110
Rocky Mountain Iris
Rocky Mountain Phlox
Abert's Squirrels feed on pine nuts, the inner bark of pine twigs, buds, mushrooms, and wild fruits. During spring "mating bouts," males chase estrous females through the ponderosa canopy.
If you sit quietly in a ponderosa pine forest in May, you may see a troupe of Abert's Squirrels dashing from limb to limb in a madcap mating ritual. The estrous female takes the lead, with several ardent admirers close on her tail. The chase order typically corresponds to the proximity of each male's home range to that of the female. If one of the males "cuts in line," his competitors may wrestle him to the forest floor.
Young are born in early summer and spend their first few weeks in a massive stick nest high in the canopy. An interconnected canopy helps these arboreal squirrels avoid predation and may partially explain their dependence on mature ponderosa pine forests.
The presence of false truffles, which grow symbiotically on ponderosa pine roots, helps Abert's Squirrels survive lean times. The squirrels dig up the mushrooms and carry them to other parts of the forest, inadvertently scattering the spores and thus contributing to forest health.
Sadly, non-native Fox Squirrels have displaced Abert's Squirrels on some of the mesas west of
May 5: The full moon rises at 8:03 p.m.
Photo credits: Squirrel and flowers, Steve Jones, except
Irises, George Oetzel
Early morning at Walker Ranch, recording Nature Almanac for May 2007 - Shelly Schlendler with microphone, Ruth Carol Cushman, Steve Jones. On right, ball cactus with bee. Photos by George Oetzel
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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