Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Red Squirrel's Midden

I first came across the term midden when reading a report on archaeological findings where middens or piles of shells were found on the beaches of Prince Edward Island as evidence of early inhabitation by man. Always thought it was odd to have such a name for a simple pile but then it is a better explanation than just a pile. In fact says that a kitchen midden is a "mound consisting of shells of edible mollusks and other refuse, marking the site of a prehistoric human habitation." That is quite specific. I have also heard it used for the small piles of spruce or pine cone husks left by squirrels as pictured here. Numerous such middens have been found throughout the property today. It must be that the reduced food supply may be diminishing to a point where cone seeds now become the best there is on the forest menu of the red squirrel.

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