July 2012 is now the hottest month on record and predictions for August show a continuation of low rainfall and high temperatures. Add in our warm winter and spring and 2012 is now the hottest year on record too. Ouch! I’m not a summer person. I’ve likened myself this summer to a lion on the Serengeti, grumpy and lethargic. Like most animals, I try to conserve energy. I have limited my time in the sun and planned outside chores for early evenings.
Extreme weather takes its toll on most critters and many scientists believe extreme weather events are the new norm. Calls concerning wildlife have increased with our extreme summer weather. Wildlife’s resourceful, behavioral changes don’t always suit humans. Skunks have been visiting a local restaurant’s outside area, raccoons are seeking water from bird baths, and coyotes have been more active. Extreme weather is certainly a motivating factor.
I give some simple reminders. Recognize that animals will seek out food and go to some tremendous efforts to maintain the lives of their offspring and their own. Remember many of us have property that attracts and meets the needs of wildlife in some way. Although it seems harsh at times, I’m a huge advocate of hazing wildlife. I don’t care if a raccoon or other critter visits my pond. However, I should never see them. When I do, I scare them through several humane techniques. Purposefully feeding mammals, especially with people food, isn’t a good idea. I’ve had many phone calls from fearful residents whose neighbors feed wildlife. This typically does not end well for the animal.
One article I’ve read this summer stated that hummingbirds are not visiting feeders as much. It said they’ve stayed near larger bodies of water which have slightly lower temperatures, more insects, and blooming flowers. Our Bluebird volunteers have mentioned notable differences in nests this year and many insect feeding birds are showing up for seed at feeders. Have you noticed fewer Hummingbirds at your feeders this year?
Animals have a set way of dealing with heat. They pant, shed, become lethargic, drink more water, and change their schedules and diets. Some animals such as amphibians go into hibernation like state call estivation to pass the hottest, driest periods. Animals also dissipate heat through ears, tails, feet, and wings. They spend more time in and around water too. Tracks along our streams, ponds, and the river reveal many visitors each evening. Are these tactics enough for prolonged events though? What have you witnessed this summer?