Meadows are in a constant state of change. If they were not managed they would quickly revert to forest growth and a whole host of meadow-loving plants and animals would be deprived of a home.
In the spring and summer the meadows come alive. Grasses, the dominant meadow plant, sprout through the old growth. Each grass's flower opens once in its life and only for an hour. Queen Anne's lace, daisies, milkweed, and goldenrod add color and variety.
After a winter of hibernation, hungry woodchucks come out of their burrows to eat the fresh vegetation. Meadow voles, which live in extensive tunnels, make pathways through the dense summer grass. Neatly chewed holes in the grass lead to vole tunnels which travel all over the meadow. These mice-like animals are very abundant producing up to 17 litters per year.
Moles and shrews are also common here as is the red fox which preys on these small animals. Bobolinks, meadowlarks, sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, towhees, catbirds, yellow-throats and other birds nest in the meadow along its edges.
Of all meadow inhabitants, the insects are the most numerous. One sweep with a net through meadow grass in summer or early fall will catch a horde of flies, beetles, leafhoppers, bugs and ants. Many are brightly colored yet all are perfectly camouflaged to the flower or plant stem they frequent.
Next: The Marsh