Saturday, June 5, 2010

Are deer visiting the area?

I was taking the tags off the newly planted trees this past week when I noticed that many of the serviceberry plants (Amelanchier arborea) have had some of their twigs cut. The cut was quite a distinctive cut. About a foot off the ground at a 45 degree angle, cleanly cut through with some damage to the bark on one side. The twig can be found by the plant with some of the leaves still on the twig. After consulting the internet I think it is unlikely that it was deer. Downy serviceberry is listed as one of the trees unlikely to be damaged by deer. Also browse evidence is supposed to be a ragged broken end not a clean cut.

I think it is much more likely it is a rodent cutting down the twig in order to get at the tasty leaves higher up. This fits with the 45 degree cut. Supposing the rodent cocked its head to the side to reach up and use its incissors to cut the twig. The damage to the bark on one side of the cut could be the mark of the lower teath. So which rodent is the culprit and why is the damage occuring all of a sudden? In the triangle cottontail rabbits are a common sight. I know meadow voles are around ( The other day I suprised one as I was pulling the grass away from the base of a tree. I practically grabbed it when I went to grab a handfull of grass, it then scurried away between my legs disappearing down one of its runways), squirrels are common, there is a chipmunk living on the east slope by the path as is a groundhog.

I have never seen a squirrel eat leaves and a meadow vole or chipmunk wouldn't chop down a twig a foot up from the base. No the most likely culprits are groundhogs or rabbits. Of the two I believe a groundhog is more likely because rabbits are too common a sight on the south side of the berm where the damage occured. If it was rabbits surely there would have been more damage all along. No I think it was a wandering groundhog looking for a new home that came by and opportunistically took some time feeding on his favorites.