Driftless Prairies: Native Habitat Restoration

Nature inspires awe!

Between a Rock and a Soft, Warm Place

Since I’m outdoors a lot, I spent a great deal of time thinking about living quarters, especially on these cold, winter days. I wonder how critters find their warm homes and are they as “snuggly” as I am in front of my fireplace or nestled in my bed? OK, so that’s anthropomorphizing just a bit, but it does pique my curiosity about habitats. What is a habitat? The Oxford American Dictionary defines habitat as “the natural home or environment of an animal, place, or other organism or a particular type of environment regarded as a home for organisms.” I decided one day to make a game of it. How many habitats can you find in this picture?

Or this picture?
I always think these “cavities” at the base of trees would be great homes but I have yet to “see” anything living there. Perhaps it’s great for overwintering arthropods and microorganisms?
 This would be a good spot to find a chickadee pressed into on a cold winter’s night. Or perhaps this woodpecker hole?
 One of the many wonderful snags we have standing in our woods. So many critters find them to not only be great habitat but a perfect smorgasbord, as demonstrated by the numerous woodpeckers holes.
Some woodpiles would not be a great habitat but this one is. Why? Because we won’t be moving it and/or burning it this winter. You can see that some wood-boring insect made them homes long before they toppled to the ground and we cut them up. What else could be living here?
And while the prairie, in and of itself, is habitat to many critters, namely our beautiful white-tailed deer, it also supports habitat within itself, such as this home. Perhaps a rabbit dug this? Maybe a skunk? It’s not large enough for a badger or a woodchuck.
Rock outcroppings are some of my favorite landscape features and they can be home to lots of critters – mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates galore!! How many possible habitats are there on this fabulous geologic phenomenon?

Next time you take a walk, whether its on an urban street or a country lane or in a nearby park, think about all the life that is sustained and living nearby. How many places can you find that is a rock and a soft, warm place?

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