The trees are signaling autumn not only by their leaves changing color but also with acorns falling. Lots and lots of acorns. For two weeks It has been “raining” acorns.
The creepy thing is when they hit the roof, the car or some other hard surface it sounds like a gunshot. Sometimes it’s so loud the sound actually causes me to duck. I have been getting extra exercise with all the ducking.
I don’t remember a year when there have been so many acorns on the ground.
This had me asking, “Does this mean it’s going to be a rough winter?” Well, the folklore of the past two hundred years says that a heavy acorn crop is a sure sign that the coming winter season is going to be a doozy. However, the size of the acorn crop is likely no more likely to predict the weather than the size of the stripes on woolly bear caterpillars does. (Who measures the stripes on woolly bears?!)
This overproduction of acorns is what botanists refer to as a mast year. Every 2-5 years trees seem to synchronize an overproduction of nuts, fruits, or berries, providing a bumper crop. In masting years, there’s so many acorns that the birds and animals can’t keep up with them, allowing some of the acorns to sprout and become seedlings. Did you know only one in 10,000 acorns grows into a tree?
There is a ripple effect attached to a mast year. In big acorn years like this, the species that depend on them as a food supply will be fat, happy and mating. So, we will have more mice and squirrels. More mice and squirrels mean more predators like foxes, coyotes and hawks will fatten up as well.
Well, I guess I’d better get raking and shoveling – there’s thousands of acorns in my yard!