Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Mammal Sighting at Francis Beidler Forest

It is not often that the staff at Audubon's Francis Beidler Forest gets to say, "We've never seen that before." Granted, we recently wrote a blog describing the discovery of a crashed USAF RF-84F jet, but in this case we are referring to the plants and animals of the sanctuary.

On Sunday, visitor Jennifer LeGrand-O'Brien showed some images of a small mammal scampering on the boardwalk near #15. It looked like a weasel, but we had never seen one on our property. Initially, we thought it might be an escaped pet, but the Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata) ranges throughout North America and on into South America. They simply do not present themselves often for easy viewing.
Long-tailed Weasel - Image by Jennifer LeGrand-O'Brien
Long-tailed Weasel - Image by Jennifer LeGrand-O'Brien
Long-tailed Weasel - Image by Jennifer LeGrand-O'Brien
After viewing the short video below, there is no doubt that a Long-tailed Weasel is living near the boardwalk at #15.

video
Long-tailed Weasel - Video by Jennifer LeGrand-O'Brien

For those keeping tabs on the Francis Beidler Forest Facebook page, #15 is also the location of the Barred Owl nest where both owlets died within days of each other. There are a number of possible reasons for the deaths, including disease, but the close proximity of an aggressive predator willing to attack prey larger than itself, adds intrigue to the situation. Additionally, Long-tailed Weasel young are born in the April-May timeframe and they too need to eat.

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