Nature Canada

An Unlikely Visitor at a Bruce Peninsula Feeder

A bit of a shock when I recently looked out the kitchen window of my home outside of Tobermory.  Instead of the usual Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Redpolls at my feeders, a metre long Fisher (Martes pennanti) was chewing down mouthfuls of sunflower seeds.  It seemed nonplused by my presence at the window 3m and continued to feed for a good 20 minutes.

Photo by Rod Steinacher

Extirpated from the Upper Bruce Peninsula almost 100 years ago due to trapping pressure, habitat destruction, and even intentional poisoning, the OMNR reintroduced them to the area from 1979 to 1982.  The success of this program can be measured by the Fisher’s range expansion into adjoining areas of Southern Ontario.

Sunflower seeds seem like quite a change for this always opportunistic feeder, who is far more likely to be chasing Red Squirrels through the tree branches or dispatching Porcupines.  The enormous canines are specialized for killing bites to the neck, and while “fierceness” is an anthropomorphic overlay onto this wild animal’s behaviour, it is supremely adapted to be a successful predator, even if it makes an occasional surprise visit to a bird feeder.

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