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Into the Outdoors: Snow Spiders - Eagles - Coyotes and More

A long ago column made reference to my buddy and I encountering large numbers of spiders on top of the snow a number of years ago. I asked that anyone with any information about this contact me. Well, my old friend, Dave Lewis, forwarded me an article from the Internet dealing with the so-called “snow spiders.” Apparently, this phenomenon is not really all that unusual. It appears that certain species of spiders are capable of surviving snow and cold. I still find it incredible, but we saw it, and now I have scientific evidence to prove it. Mother Nature is full of surprises.

You know, there was a time when, if someone had told me that they had seen spiders scurrying across the snow, I would have thought they were either lying or crazy. Naturally, this got me to thinking about other natural phenomena that first seemed ridiculous, but later turned out to be true. Take, for example, the bald eagle. A number of years ago, when folks started reporting eagle sightings, many of us thought that they were just mistaking them for some other birds, like the red-tailed hawk or the turkey vulture. Now, of course, eagle sightings along the Allegheny river are very common. Forty years ago, who would have thought that possible?  

Then, of course, we have coyotes. When I was a kid, I thought that the only place you could find these “song dogs” was out west somewhere, as part of the Roy Rogers cowboy show. When they began to be reported in this area I was, of course, skeptical. Now, coyote sightings are an everyday phenomenon, and trappers and hunters are collecting lots of them.

Speaking of coyotes, their mating season is just around the corner. The males become more aggressive at this time. Also, it won’t be that long until there are baby coyotes to feed.  What all of this is leading up to is the danger to pets and, for that matter, poultry. Cats are, for some reason, very high on the menu. Coyotes will eat the cat, then come back regularly to eat the cat food. The photo is one I downloaded years ago from the Internet. It is admittedly disturbing, but it drives home a point. Keep your cats indoors.

And what about bears?  For years and years, the bruins were part of the lore of the far north.  Now, this area ranks right up there with bears bagged each season. It’s a rare individual who has not seen at least one of them. While we don’t see them every day, a bear sighting is no longer news around here.

For many years, in fact, for most of my life, I was under the impression that robins all went south for the winter. Then, while deer hunting, I saw a flock of them in the woods. Since then, on a couple of occasions, I have seen robins in the winter,  but it has not happened all that often. Even so, winter robins are for real.

One of the great things about spending time in the outdoors is that you never know what you are going to see. It’s not always restricted to wildlife. Once, Old Bub and I came across the fragmentary remains of what was once a house. There was even a doll’s head lying on the site. It was, I must say, creepy in a way. Even so, it was interesting to think that at one time, there had been a family house, bustling with life.

This time of year is not all that great for hunting and fishing, but there are still many things to see and experience in the great outdoors.

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