Summer

Painted Turtle

“Early summer days are a jubilee time for birds. In the fields, around the house, in the barn, in the woods, in the swamp—everywhere love and songs and nests and eggs.” 

– E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web


After the frantic movement, mating, and nest building of spring, life settles into a different rhythm for summer. Songbirds flit between nests and hunting grounds with dozens, hundreds, thousands of insects to sate hungry young. Ducklings and goslings dutifully follow their parents from hiding place to hiding place, growing in their first flight feathers as their flightless parents molt their own. White-tailed deer and their fawns trek to and fro secret locations to forest edges and fields each and every dusk and dawn to feed. Muskrats maintain their huts with back and forth trips to cattail plants. Bumblebee queens are doing the same, visiting flowers for nectar and pollen upon which they feed.  Once the eggs they lay have hatched, they use those plant resources to feed larval worker bees in underground burrows or abandoned mouse nests.  Life is a busy routine of foraging, feeding, and growing

But while school kids may be out for the summer, in the waters and prairies of Minnesota, school is well underway for wildlife. The muskrat is teaching its own young how to watch and warn of dangerous predators like weasels and mink who are likewise bringing meaty meals to their young. Birds are learning to fly, northern harriers and purple martins learning to navigate the tight twists and turns of flight in the prairie. Everything is pointing towards preparation for survival.