25 October, 2009

An American Marten

I have a feeling that many people have no idea what an American Marten is.  I know that before I moved to  Wisconsin I had never heard of them.

Yesterday morning, we awoke to a beautiful site.  It had snowed the night before.  There was a thin glaze of ice on our pond and the trees were laden with a heavy wet snow. 

I was standing in the kitchen when I saw something run across the garden.  Of course the garden is finished  for the year, but it is right outside our kitchen window.  My first thought was that  it looked a bit like a river otter.  We used to see them playing down by our pond, but never up near our house.  Within seconds it was gone...it ran into the woods.

Well..a few minutes later my husband said.."there he is again".  He was romping in the snow, must have been  looking for mice, or voles, maybe even our chipmunks...OH NO....NOT THE CHIPMUNKS!  Anyway....he came close to the front door and we got a pretty good look at him.  What a beautiful animal.  American Martens are part of the weasel family, the Family Mustelidae.   I'd say he was about 24" long, brown, with a long bushy tail and a pretty face....pretty for a weasel that is!

According to the National Audubon Society's Field Guide to North American Mammals they spend most of their time foraging for rodents....PLEASE PLEASE ...NOT THE CHIPMUNKS!  We have alot of red squirrels here and it evidently likes to dine on them too!  I thought it was very interesting that it traverses a range of 5 to 15 square miles.  That seemed like quite alot of land to cover!

In all the years we have lived here, we've never seen one.  He was very beautiful and I'm just happy to have caught a glimpse of an American Marten in the wild.

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