Egret with California vole it just caught
In wet years the populations of Microtus californicus, also called meadow mice, can reach epic numbers, with records as high as 2,000 voles per acre. For those mathletes out there, that's about a vole per 20 square feet, or one per 4-5 feet as you're walking along.
But while that may sound like a plague that could easily cause environmental impacts, these blooms are happily kept in check by the many predators that enjoy the voles (hawks, owls, snakes, skunks, badgers, bobcats, coyotes, foxes...). And when the predators get satiated (and they do!), there's drought years to also knock the vole populations back to normal.
As a result of this proclivity, and the reliance on them by so many species as a food source, Cal voles are considered a keystone species in CA. The McSnacks of the meadows.
Second egret after it caught a vole - this one was squeaking up a storm
The shut up shake
"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception..."
And another one gone
I'll finish out this post with a couple of photos of the little cuties themselves...
California vole popping out to feed on Prickly Sow Thistle as it was being pulled by one of Edgewood's many wonderful Weed Warriors
And a way too cute baby Cal vole we found "meeping" in the flowers one day
The California meadow vole - darling and delicious.
- San Mateo County Parks - Edgewood Park & Preserve
- Friends of Edgewood
- Edgewood Weed Warriors
- Wikipedia - California Vole
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - Microtus californicus
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web - Microtus californicus
- Wikipedia - keystone species
- IMdB - Groucho Marx Quotes
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - A Year of Edgewood Park
- My ongoing, chronological flickr photo set of Edgewood Park