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subnivean

So I’ve been reading this great book I got for my birthday or possibly for holidaytime called Naturally Curious. It’s written by a Vermonter lady and it’s full of all this great trivia about local flora and fauna, with photos! It’s arranged by month so you can read it and see what’s going on in the natural world at any given point in time. And this month I learned a new word–I love learning new words–which is subnivean. Some animals hibernate for the winter, but some merely burrow. Mice and voles, among other animals, spend a lot of time under the snow but above the ground, scooting around and doing stuff. When the snow starts to melt, you can sometimes see their little tunnels. This is especially true if you happen to have a birdfeeder. I was all interested in this, Gooling to see if I could find some subnivean photography (upon cursory glance, no, but I will keep poking) and then I walked outside with my squinty “What’s that big yellow ball in the sky?” Mister Peepers look and noticed that I had some subniveal tunnels right at my front door. The photo is not much to look at, but it must have been something I’ve seen in the ground hundreds of times and just didn’t know what I was looking at. Little fuzzy animals, burrowing in the snow, secretly eating the sunflower seeds that fell from my feeder. Another winter mystery uncovered. And one more sign of eventual spring.

3 Comments

  1. mom wrote:

    I too love learning new words and had never heard “subnivean” before. My birdfeeder is also surrounded by those little tunnels. Thanks!

    Friday, March 15, 2013 at 04:55 | Permalink
  2. Brian wrote:

    unrelated to anything but learning a new word, today i learned the word “heliopause” from a slashdot post about voyager 1 leaving the solar system. it basically means the boundary of the reach of the sun’s affect, but more here – neat!

    Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 18:59 | Permalink
  3. Celestial Allen wrote:

    If you read the Burgess books, maybe you remember how Reddy Fox would listen for the sound of Danny Meadow mouse (and his relatives) as he ran under the snow, then pounce!

    Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 13:38 | Permalink

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