* Finally, note where large nut trees grow along the roads you travel regularly. I pass several large oaks on my way to town, and most years they produce a bumper crop of acorns. Deer love acorns. So, especially at night, I slow down when I pass those trees because I expect to see hungry deer. Rarely am I disappointed.
The growth habit of large isolated oaks along rural roads exacerbates this problem. White oak branches grow almost horizontally and sometimes reach as far as 50 feet from the trunk. The trunk may be a safe distance from the road, but the acorn-laden branches can hang directly above the roadway.
And, of course, deer aren't the only wildlife attracted to fallen nuts. Turkeys, chipmunks, and gray, fox and red squirrels scramble for fallen nuts. Blue jays, red-bellied woodpeckers and nuthatches also love acorns. So I've learned to slow down whenever I pass a tree heavy with acorns.
I've also learned to use fallen acorns as a source of inexpensive bird food. Each fall I spend a few days collecting bags of acorns, which I store in the garage. Timing is critical, however. Newly fallen nuts don't last long, so it's best to get a head start on all the wildlife that loves acorns and other nuts.
In November, I begin to offer the nuts I've collected. I put out a handful each day because my supply is limited. But the woodpeckers, jays and nuthatches seem to really appreciate my effort.
If that all sounds like too much work, and you don't have an energetic child or grandchild to gather the nuts, you can buy nuts online. At Vermont-based www.acorno.com, white oak acorns sell for $1.25 per pound, red oak acorns for $2 per pound and hickory nuts for $6 per pound.
If you decide to collect or purchase acorns for wildlife, understand that you are creating a hotspot for all kinds of wildlife, including bears. So if you know there are bears in the area, do not offer acorns. And be prepared for more wildlife around your feeding station. Food is a magnet for wildlife and that means more potential victims for speeding vehicles.
Accidents happen, but by knowing the roads and habitat close to home and expecting the unexpected, accidents can be minimized. So, be careful. It's a jungle out there.
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033 or email sshala...@aol.com.