Fall has arrived in Vernon, B.C! Pumpkins, caramel apples, scarves and rain boots are back! Autumn is nature’s way of saying winter is coming and we need to prepare for the cold months to come. Yet, we’re not the only ones getting ready for winter! Our friends in the animal kingdom are just as busy!
Vernon has a huge variety of wildlife! From birds to bears, we have it all! Some of our wildlife is quite exclusive to our region; such as marmots, painted turtles and giant blue herons. So what are they doing in the fall? Well, we decided to see what our furry and feathered friends would be up to right now!
Vernon has a populous marmot population. The scenic Allen Brooks Nature Centre and around Kekuli Bay Provincial Park house a large number of marmots. The Allan Brooks Nature Centre has dedicated the natural terrain as the “Marmot City” creating a unique opportunity for visitors to watch the marmots in their natural environment. During the summer, marmots eat plenty of the lush Okanagan flowering stalks, the leaves of a variety of grasses and forbs to prepare for their long winter hibernation. They enjoy our area’s ecosystem with warmer climate, plentiful greens and forested areas where they are safe to hunker down and hibernate as well as mate.
Painted turtles are a growing community here in Vernon. Residing in the Commonage area of town as well as near Swan Lake, these little guys are as cute as can be! The hatchlings are currently breaking out of their eggs, where they will remain in their loose soil nest until the spring. These turtles prefer the Vernon BC area because the North Okanagan has an abundance of nesting sites near the water. With the ecosystem and the reasonable winters Vernon is the perfect place for Painted Turtles to lay eggs and easily access an abundance of insects, snails, earthworms, frogs, tadpoles, algae, aquatic plants, and carrion for food.
Vernon houses one of the largest urban heronries in Western Canada, which is nestled between our Wal-Mart and some residential complexes. Giant blue herons live near the water’s edge and in large colonies, feasting on insects, rodents, fish and other small mammals. Our region has plenty of open space near water so they can easily live together and mate. They are currently getting ready to migrate south because winter is approaching, but they’ll be back in the spring!
As you can see, our wildlife is very busy, but you can always come down to Vernon and pay them a visit before they hibernate or migrate! Visit the Allan Brooks Nature Centre to learn more about wildlife in the North Okanagan: http://www.abnc.ca.