Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 55

Biologists list meadow voles and
deer mice as the most documented prey
of long-tailed weasels, and by throwing
bird seed out on the dirt below our
back steps for ground-feeding birds, I
had unwittingly provided weasels great
hunting. The seeds not only enticed
meadow voles to feed there, they
constructed several tunnels beneath the
seeds so they quickly could grab a seed
and duck back into their underground
passages. Then they grew bolder; I spent
several weeks watching them feed sideby-side with the birds.
The day before Mark reported his
long-tailed weasel sighting, the whole
area beneath our back porch had been
dug up and the meadow vole tunnels
destroyed. They were gone, no doubt
victims of one or more weasels.
Apparently, long-tailed weasels can
creep into the burrows of meadow voles
and kill them by suffocation, according
to biologists and a YouTube video I
watched showing a long-tailed weasel
using this technique.
Their long, sinuous bodies enable
them to move underground when
hunting, and while they make their
own dens in banks or under stumps,
they construct their nests at the end of
underground tunnels built by their prey,
most notably chipmunks. After they eat
their prey, beginning with their heads,
hearts and lungs, they use their fur, along
with dried grasses, to line and construct
their nests, which are 9 to 12 inches in
diameter and often cluttered with the
bones of prey.
The next morning, as I walked down
to the guesthouse, a long-tailed weasel
ran up the hill toward our house. I had
time to admire its dark brown body,
triangular-shaped head, creamy-white
underparts, and black-tipped tail, as
APRIL 2021	

well as the way it bounded along, its
back humped when it crossed directly
in front of me. It appeared to slip around
the foundation of the house, probably
searching for chipmunks that had
burrowed there.
Long-tailed weasels are generalists,
both in their habitat requirements and
food selection. They eat 40 percent of
their weight daily and more than 90
percent of their prey consists of small
mammals, chiefly rodents, including
Norway rats and house mice, but also
red, gray, fox and flying squirrels, moles,
shrews, muskrats, and young cottontail
rabbits and snowshoe hares.
They are not ruthless killers, but do
kill and cache excess prey for several
days to feed themselves and young. They
don't suck blood as legend insists, but
lap it up as it seeps from a bite wound,
which often severs the spinal cord, at the
base of its prey's skull.
Long-tailed weasels also eat deer,
beaver and woodchuck carrion, insects,
earthworms, and any birds they can
catch on nests. Red-winged blackbirds,
tree sparrows, song sparrows, northern
flickers, dark-eyed juncos and bluewinged teal have been noted by various
observers. In addition, they readily climb
trees and raid bird nests for eggs using
their excellent hearing and sense of smell
to track prey.
Knowing all this, I was not surprised
to watch a weasel run from our garage
and across our driveway to a bluebird
box on an electric pole, then into field
grasses. The bluebirds had been feeding
young, but disappeared shortly thereafter
and when I checked, the nest was empty.
Long-tailed weasels have plenty of
enemies including red and gray foxes,
55



Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - Intro
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 5
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 6
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 7
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 8
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 9
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Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 18
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 19
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 20
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 21
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 22
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 23
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 24
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 25
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 26
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 27
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 28
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Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 30
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Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 37
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 38
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Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 53
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 54
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 55
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Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 60
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Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 63
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - 64
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2021 - Cover4
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