Groundhog rumbles

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This guy -- groundhog, woodchuck, whistle pig -- appeared last in issue #145, in the company of articles about cutting back butterfly bush and dividing perennials. 

Lots of garden creatures listen!

Groundhog Day: We feel a rumble beneath our feet!

Other people may joke about Groundhog Day but we're not in that group. We've been digging for years (and making notes in our talk about gardening folklore, What the Groundhog Won't Tell) to learn more about why this northwestern European tradition planted itself on this particular day, testing our theory that it harks to ancient ritual and recognition of renewed activity in the animal world.

Care to share your garden how-to and how-come folklore? Forum discussion.


What's the news in the Groundhog Times?

Renewed pee-yoo. We smell skunk and realize we haven't had that pleasure since late last fall.

Ramped up roadkill. Raccoons are out and about by night all year. So why do so many turn up dead along the road, starting now? Skunks and groundhogs (wood chucks), too. They've awakened, or are moving more often and farther, driven by returning hunger and, in the case of the male groundhog, the urge to locate some female company.

Hungry hawks. Breeding time begins about now for many of the hawks in the northern U.S. Hunting takes on a remarkable intensity. If you pay heed you'll see two or three times as many, each camped at the edge of a clearing, ready to lunge.


Birds of prey, foraging methods:

  • Flycatching or hawking: Flying from a perch to take aerial prey
  • Gleaning: Taking stationary prey from the ground while standing
  • Hovering: Taking prey from the ground while in flight
  • Lunging: Leaping from a stationary position to take moving prey
  • Probing: Searching for and taking prey from within soil, bark or litter


What's Coming Up Issue 145, where the groundhog's chomping and we're doing the moving and shaking.