Milkweed Seeds

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 

– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Fall is a time of plenty for Minnesota’s wildlife. Where prairie intersect with wetlands, bursting insect populations, ripening seeds, and thickening roots mean protein, fats, and carbohydrates to chunk up for cold winters and long migrations.  The nutritious greens of summer are still around, at least for awhile. Predators have an abundance of prey available, in the large brood and litter sizes of inexperienced, younger herbivores.

It’s also a time of restlessness. Red-winged blackbirds are flocking together, getting ready for mass migrations south, their long dark ribbons coursing overhead. Ducks and geese, too, are dispersing, starting to turn their unconscious thoughts in all directions then ultimately southward. White-tailed deer does are coming into heat, bucks into the frenzy of the rut, starting the next generation of the following spring. As the days fade into late fall, reptiles and amphibians burrow into the mud or enter group hibernacula that stretches below the deeping frost line. Prairie grasses and forbs, while not knowing any urgency, turn red and orange and purple and yellow, soon to fade to brown and support the first snowflakes. Western Minnesota is emptying out and hunkering down for the short bright days and long dark nights of winter.