November is a month when wildlife are in prime condition after feasting on summer and early autumn’s bounty. Male deer support polished racks of antlers and a muscular build in preparation of the rut. Waterfowl have new clean and fresh plumage that may attract a suitable mate for spring nesting season. Photographers also try their best to capture that perfect image of these birds in their prime before they move south for the winter. Fox, coyotes, beaver, mink and other local mammals have spectacular fur coats that help protect them from the cold, wind and snow of winter.
This month is prime time to seek bird species as cold north winds strip the landscape of the last brilliantly-colored fall leaves. For birders, this is high-time for rarities on the lakefront as strong cold fronts can create awe-inspiring, major movements of waterfowl, gulls, grebes and loons on the shores of Lake Erie. Intrepid birders willing to visit Huntington Reservation can be dazzled by daily movements of thousands to nearly half-a-million red-breasted mergansers joined by throngs of lesser scaup, common loons, and horned grebes. Lake watching offers the chance to see rare jaegers, waterfowl, and passerines blown in by strong winds. Woodlands have now quieted and roving bands of chickadees, titmice, and brown creepers are joined by red-breasted nuthatches. Rare northern finches, such as white-winged crossbill or evening grosbeak, may visit your feeders or join building flocks of common finches at birch, hemlock, and spruce stands.
Depending on daily temperatures and weather conditions you may catch a glimpse of a very late appearance of butterflies, moths, and dragonflies, and damselflies. The previously-named “autumn meadowhawk,” now known as the yellow-legged meadowhawk, is a small, ruby-red dragonfly of open fields and woodland edges. This dragonfly is capable of withstanding cold temperatures and feeds on tiny gnats, flies and other minute insects that fly during daylight hours that exceed 35 degrees. Locally there are records of yellow-legged meadowhawks actively foraging on “warmer” days through the end of November - December and into January!
November belongs to the white-tailed deer. Bucks are in prime shape for the rut where they continuously search for females in which to pass on their genes for another generation. Often they may go days without eating as only females are on their mind, oblivious to their surroundings. It is a time to be aware of deer crossing roads and highways as deer-car collisions peak this month.