By Mayor Brent Frazier
City of Pelican Rapids
When the north wind blows and the snow is drifting across the landscape, most of us have the fortune of being nestled in the comfort of our abodes.
We can gaze out the living room window and notice the wildlife and birds that do not have the luxury of keeping safe, warm and content by the means of adjusting a thermostat on a heating device.
Mother Nature can be so very cruel and at the end of the journey, it comes down to the “Survival of the Fittest.”
Although it was probably acknowledged long before, this concept was first introduced in 1869 by British naturalist Charles Darwin.
Darwin had other concepts which probably don’t hold much weight with many people, but the concept of “Survival of the Fittest” is one which we can probably all wrap our head around.
This suggestion emphasized that organisms which best adjusted to the environment are the most successful in surviving and reproducing.
An example can be illustrated by thinking of a herd of deer in which some are mature, strong and healthy and some that are immature, weak and sickly. The deer that have strong and healthy bodies are likely to live longer than those deer with weak and sickly bodies.
When approached by a pack of wolves, the strong and healthy deer will run away and the deer that are weak and sickly will usually be caught, knocked to the ground, killed and consumed by the pack of wolves.
In many situations, it is the conservationists who come to the rescue!
When the snow gets deep and the temperatures plunge, many conservationists have stepped forward and set out bales of hay and protein blocks which are rich in minerals and vitamin supplements for the consumption by the deer.
Such acts of goodwill by the conservationists help to save the deer from hunger, weakness, starvation and possible death. Just as with a human body, deer or other wildlife that are nourished with the proper foods will remain strong, healthy and not as susceptible to disease, illness or death.
This illustration not only pertains to large animals such as the deer, but also to small animals and birds.
Whether it is summer or winter, many of us have grown to appreciate the art of birdwatching or birding. It truly becomes an art as it evolves to a recreational activity and a form of citizen science.
A science in that it can escalate from viewing the birds with the naked eye to using a telescope or binoculars either from our living room window or the setting of marsh, prairie or forest.
An enhancement to birdwatching is the sprinkling of bird seed on the ground to hanging bird feeders, fruit and suet in our backyard.
Feeding birds not only adds to the fulfillment of viewing the birds, but the action of supplementing their food supply when the snow is deep and the nuts and berries becomes nonexistent.
There are many choices of bird feed. Popular varieties in the winter months are sunflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, thistle seed, peanuts, millet, whole corn kernels, fruit and suet.
By consuming these foods during the cold winter months, the birds are replenishing and maintaining their energy supply when it takes more calories and energy to keep warm to survive the harsh winters.
A word of caution: if you begin to feed the birds in the autumn and early winter months, please continue until spring season arrives and the birds can then scratch and hunt for food on their own.
By discontinuing the bird feeding too soon, one may notice the decline of birds in your neighborhood. This may be due to their weakness and possible starvation as these birds that become dependent on your good deeds of supplying them with food and nourishment in the past, are now not accustomed to searching for food on their own.
Yes, the concept of “Survival of the Fittest” is still alive and well for mankind, animals and birds.
On the lighter side of “Survival of the Fittest,” a fable has been told of two men who are being chased by a raging bull in a pasture. If you were one of these men, you do not have to be fast enough to out run the bull, but just fast enough to out run the other man!