Thursday, November 3, 2011

Acorn Status

2010 was an exceptional year for acorn production in Southern Ohio and much of the Eastern United States. Many people within a couple miles of Blue Jay Barrens reported acorns nearly covering the ground in their oak woods. Unfortunately, Blue Jay Barrens’ oaks failed to join the majority and produced a 2010 acorn crop that was slightly below normal. I headed into one of the most concentrated stands of mixed oaks to officially assess the 2011 acorn crop.

I did find acorns and they were in numbers that I consider to be about average. At least there were several meat filled acorns scattered about. When I checked last year, the only acorns I could find were either buggy or rotting. For a short while the supply should outpace the demand.

The number of empty acorn caps on the ground was too low to suggest that animals had already cleaned up a huge crop. Many of the caps were fresh and clean, indicating that they had just recently fallen.

Pieces of seed coat sitting on top of the fallen leaves were the most abundant evidence of acorns. Some of these pieces were newly exposed, as evidenced by the bright fuzzy lining.

This looks like the work of a mouse. I used to have a pet Peromyscus named Mousie and this is exactly how he would deal with an acorn. I’m surprised the mouse didn’t hide the nut away somewhere safe. Maybe it became a meal before it had finished eating.

There are still a few acorns left in the trees, but not enough to make this more than an average year. I guess average is pretty good. There should be enough food to maintain animal populations near their current level, so there won’t be any radical population swings one way or the other. It’s out of my control anyway. I just watch and see what happens.

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