Week of October 30, 2022 – November 5, 2022
by Bridget Jones, Environmental Educator
As Halloween approaches and children dress up as bats, cats, and werewolves, our thoughts turn more frequently to creatures that inhabit the night. While we are sleeping, a whole world of activity is taking place right outside our windows. Imagine coming to Baltimore Woods late at night. If you were to follow a moonlit trail to the heart of the woods, what would you see?
Entering the forest, you might look up at the stars and notice bats flying above you, searching for a few last flying insects to eat before their winter hibernation. At this time of year, the crickets and katydids have mostly quieted down, leaving the forest around you silent. The wind may rustle dried leaves nearby…or is that the sound of something approaching? Crunching footsteps might reveal a raccoon or opossum waddling by, scavenging for food. If you listen even more carefully, you could hear the whinnying song of an Eastern Screech Owl or the deep, booming call of a Great Horned Owl.
Human eyes are not well suited for seeing at night. However, over time, your eyes adapt to the dark enough to make out silhouettes and shadows. Looking up, you might notice a flash of white in the trees above you as a flying squirrel comes in for a landing. Of course, larger creatures move in the dark as well. A fox could appear at the edge of your vision, stalking a mouse as it crawls beneath the leaf litter. As you walk, you might startle a deer feeding on leaves. Nearby, a family of coyotes could pick up the deer’s scent and begin to follow it through the dark, searching for a meal.
After a nighttime walk, we can leave the dark behind and return to the bright lights and warmth of our homes. But outside, the nocturnal world continues on, alive with the creatures that inhabit it.