Its that time of year again. The leaves are gone, the winds have become colder, and we’ve seen our first snow of the year. That means it’s also time to start getting an up close look at the pine martens while they hang out at the bird feeders preying on birds and squirrels! As winter sets in food becomes sparser so the martens utilize the feeders full of seed as a lure to capture prey. The first one was spotted November 12th near the west dorm bird feeders.
According to the Minnesota DNR, when the snow is deep pine martens will make tunnels under the snow to hunt. They prey on mice, chipmunks, red squirrels, and insects. The pine marten is a member of the weasel family and can be 24-30 inches in length including the tail. They were near extinct in the 1920’s due to loss of wooded habitat; however, as of 1990 they have seen a full population recovery. Pine martens are sometimes trapped for their fur and are considered the “cutest” predator in Minnesota.
By Danielle Hefferan
Photo Credit Larry Colwell (2003)