Sunday, October 25, 2009

Who's watching camp over the winter?


Here's a quiz for you. What creature does the most damage to the buildings at camp after we close for the winter?

Bears?

Wolves?

Wolverines?

Beavers?

Porcupines?

I suspect most people would pick bears as the culprits. They are certainly big and destructive. However, bears are either fast asleep by the time we leave camp in late October or are sitting beside their dens waiting for the first snow before snuggling inside. Nope, bears have actually never damaged anything at camp over the winter.

Timber wolves are right in the yard when we are away. We can tell they were here when we come in the spring by the scat they leave behind. We also find moose marbles (droppings) all over the place and that's what the wolves are looking for: moose. They couldn't care less about the buildings.

There are wolverines in the area. One was known to have ripped apart a beaver house not far from camp a few years ago and eaten all the beavers inside. But unless you had a building full of meat which we don't of course, they too aren't interested in camp.

Beavers are a good guess. They could potentially cut down trees and damage buildings and in fact have done so in the summer. But once the ice covers the lake they are restricted to their houses and forays under the ice.

Porcupines are few and far between here. Apparently they were plentiful back in the gold rush days of the 1920s but I've only ever seen one animal.

Believe it or not, the creature that does the most damage to our buildings are ruffed grouse!

That's right, the chicken-sized upland birds that are favorites with fall hunters.

They fly right through the screens on our screened porches ruining the entire panel of expensive mesh.

Sometimes almost every cabin has been hit by these feathered rockets.

Grouse are not the most agile of fliers. They take off the ground with a thunderous explosion of wings and then glide under the branches of trees to a landing on the ground. Apparently they view the porch roofs as tree branches and look right through the screen.

You would think hitting aluminum screen going 40 mph would be devastating to a 1-2-pound bird. After all the impact leaves a two-foot gash in the screen. But no, the birds almost always survive. For this reason we always leave the porch doors propped open so they can find their way back outside.

This year we are trying to reduce grouse-porch collisions by painting silhouettes of great horned owls on the screens. Staffer-artist Rosalie Tilley made the stencil and did the painting.

Amazingly you cannot see the owl image from the inside, so it doesn't obstruct your view.

Hope it works.

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2 comments:

Enid, Viking Island said...

oh yes I agree. I put sheets over the windows if I think a bird can see right through to the other side.

Dan said...

That reminds me of a partridge that hit me in the head one day and Brenda the next. On the third day it flew through the window of the bunkhouse, shattering the glass. I nicknamed him Osama Bin Partridge as he was a real terror.