As a secret police in the woods Science


The smell of the earth is already flooding from Pälvi, although the cinemas that have become heavy in the shelters slow down the arrival. If you look closely, the forest, patched with dry hay, leafless waterfalls and garbage snowflakes, is full of stories of what life has been like there during the winter.

My first look is at the stump covered with spruce cones. In the stomach of which animal have the seeds continued their journey? The scales from the pile have been plucked all the way, so at least they haven’t been knocked over by darts.

In the wake of the dart, the cones can often be found in twigs or tree cavities. The bird finds it difficult to hold the cone in place while pecking at the contents. The winged one bases his workshop in a place where the visitor can be wedged into a suitable stand.

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I could doubt the mole if the spindles of the visit had been carved quite smooth and tidy. However, the surface of the spindle has remained uneven and sparse.

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The generous shaking hints in the direction of the squirrel. It does not hesitate to dine in the open. The wood mole and the wood mouse would probably have gnawed their prey out of sight.

The spruce could have tasted good for the little paw as well, but the scales would still be in place. With its peculiarly shaped beak, the pineal bird splits the scales in the longitudinal direction so that the seed sprouts under the scab.

Keko attracts burglars

There is a black hole on the side of a nearby anthill.

There is probably a fire tip drilled in the pile, but gray woodpeckers have also been seen in this forest.

Ants have received protein from ants during frost, but their predation has also required energy. First, it must have knocked the frozen outer layer of the broken heap. Since then, the winged man has been able to dig a tunnel towards the inside of the nest, where the comets spend the winter escaping frost.

It was only there that the dart’s tongue reached the lip of the nest’s inhabitants from its tunnels.

A fox can also dig a tunnel on the side of an anthill to get access to delicious larvae. Even ants taste like bears, but the whole nest is usually spread along the tannery.

Many suspects in tree beating

The bear still rages in my mind as I stop to marvel at the shattered spruce rib. Would otso have marked his territory?

Bears sharpen their claws on tree trunks, as do lynx. The easiest way to distinguish between Kontio and cat beast is from the height of the incisions. The bear’s nail marks would be visible in the tree at my eye level and even higher, while the lynx nails the body at a height of less than a meter.

Admittedly, no sharp nail marks stand out from these vertical incisions at all.

It has had a big horn head. The traces are from late summer, as the deer grow new horns every year before the heat. When the crown is in full swing, the fluffy leather that covers it begins to peel off and the deer rub its horns on the trees and branches. White-tailed deer have the same hobby.

Capricorns are particularly keen on small trees and branches. A little deer chooses a finger or a couple of thick seedlings to target.

For deer, the hustle and bustle is not just about caring for the horns, but marking the territory. It has glands at the base of the horns that complement the frontier laundry with scent marks. At the same time, the buck often digs the ground from the root of the tree when it moves. Fresh territory signs can be found as early as April, and the buck will continue to beat the trees throughout the summer.

When you notice the trees at knee height, you can find the outline marks of a delicate animal right next to the yards and jogging paths.

Tooth marks tell the author

Even in this forest you can find barked trees close to the ground. The result just isn’t as chunky as the deer’s horn traces: the bark is removed from the trunk neatly, like when carving.

Traces of teeth that stand out from the tree reveal that there has been a hare or a hail. Their ever-growing front teeth have enamel only on the front surface, so the tooth edge wears diagonally and always stays sharp. The groove in the middle of the upper teeth makes the impression look like there are four parallel teeth in parallel instead of two.

The growing nilac layer between the bark and the trunk is also eaten by moles, deer and white-tailed deer. The forest mole leaves the most special trace. Unlike a field mole gnawing at the base of a tree, a forest mole crawls to a height of several meters and rattles the bark from the twigs.

The gnats of the wood mole are found especially in young conifers, while the field mole prefers deciduous trees. In the shelters of Hanke, it reaches to peel them from a height of up to tens of centimeters. What is especially sad for the gardener is that the field mole gets to eat the bark all the way around the tree. As a result, the route of nutrients from the top to the roots is broken and the tree dies without help.

Seedlings, needles and branches are also known to be the winter food for deer. One of them has delighted with the branches of the wound here too, it can be noticed on the dirty cutting surfaces. Deer have no front teeth at all in the upper jaw, so the lower teeth rub across the branch against the horny toothpick.

Even for a hare, the branches of deciduous trees taste good, but in its teeth they would have broken neatly, as if cut with a knife.

Johanna Junttila
is the editor of Science Nature.

The fictional forest trip is based on the author’s own experiences and the book by Preben Bang and Preben Dahlstrøm. In the Footsteps of Animals (WSOY 1998), translated into Finnish and adapted to Finnish conditions by Kalevi Heikura and Mattias Tolvanen.

And what can be deduced from feathers, vomiting balls or broken eggshells found loose? You can read the full article in Science Nature issue 2/2022 or digilehdet.fi:stäif you are a subscriber to a Sanoma magazine.


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