Tamarack Wildlife Refuge

In our recent tour of the northern and western parts of Minnesota, we stopped briefly at Tamarack Wildlife Refuge. Here are a few shots:

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Although this diorama is at Tamarack, it is really a story more germane to Itasca. Shown here is the ongoing struggle for existence, etc. etc., between the fisher and the porcupine. This is one of those interesting ecological stories reminiscent of the cats/bees/cows/milk story of Darwin. It goes like this:

  • Porcupines eat pine trees.
  • Fishers eat porcupines (and nothing else really does)
  • Humans love their pine trees (to cut down and sell the wood).
  • Humans love their fishers (to trap and make into hats, or whatever).

But, when you wipe out the fishers you end up with a porcupine population explosion, and you lose your pine trees. Poor human.

Once this was discovered at Itasca, fishers were hastily reintroduced.

A few shots of the plant life:

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(click to enlarge)

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And this tiny fast moving bird:

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(click to enlarge image)

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A) Larix laricina (Eastern larch, tamarack)
B) Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass)
C) Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine)
D) Archilochus colubris (Ruby-throated Hummingbird)

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 24 Aug 2010 #permalink

B, C and D are correct. A is not!

Ah. Pinus banksiana (jack pine).

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 24 Aug 2010 #permalink

I think that is almost certainly correct. I can't think of an alternative. Very distinctive.

moving to Northern Minnesota from NY i thought some some infestation was killing the pines around Bemidji.the College up there is surrounded by bogs.anyway i was clued in to the Tamarack tree and the intense yellows it turns in the fall.a huge bog filled with Tamarack is really a sight to behold,just as "Fallish" as any of the hardwoods.