Stop # 6: Fauna

Halt…What lives here?

As you climb up the other side of the falls, look for a large rock jutting out, with an open area underneath a small ledge. Now go take a look.

So, what is all this all this black stuff and where did it come from? Simply put, it is scat, organic waste from some animal -- but what animal? Let’s take a closer look- but maybe not too close. Each piece of scat is only about an inch or so in size, per-haps less. It certainly doesn’t belong to something big like a deer or bear, but it’s probably too big to be a small critter like a squirrel or chipmunk. Whatever left this is a medium sized creature. If you look carefully, you may notice the scat is grassy and light in color, meaning our animal in question is herbivo-rous with a low protein diet. This description is a match with the porcupine!

Out in the Onteora woods, you may also come across animals like white tail deer and gray squirrels. If you look carefully, you can find some smaller rodents like the eastern chipmunk or white footed mouse. When winter rolls around in Onteora, the mice have been known to hide in the Council House for warmth. You can find evidence of beavers in the many dams they build around the lake and other bodies of water. Some other mammals in the forest that may not be as common a sight are the cottontail rabbit and the occasional black bear.

Onteora is also home to many different species of birds, from the eastern towhee to wild turkeys. Although you may not see them, you can easily find evidence in the forest of various woodpecker species. Native to these woods are the pileated woodpecker and the yellow-bellied sap sucker, two woodpeck-ers that approach trees very differently. If you see a tree with a large, deep oval shaped hole in it, that is the handi-work of the pileated woodpecker. They will burrow straight into trees to find bugs to eat or to make a nesting cavity. Either way, it causes large, noticeable damage to the tree. Yellow-bellied sap suckers make much smaller holes. They peck their holes in a series of straight lines. This releases sap inside the tree, trapping insects for an easy snack. And if you’re lucky, you will see bald eagles flying high over Orchard Lake.

DIRECTIONS: Continue northeast up to where the Red Trail meets the Yellow Trail and turn right(east) onto the Yellow Trail. Stay on the Yellow Trail until you reach the end at Stop 7.