July 26, 2012

Being Crepuscular

By Dave Erler, Senior Naturalist

Photo courtesy Rich Czina
Ever since I can remember I have always been a morning person. From my earliest memories I can recall being the first person awake in the house and climbing up on a big sofa so I could look out the picture window to watch the birds and squirrels in the yard. To this day I still rise up by 5:00AM or earlier. The transition from night to daylight is the time most birds and many of our mammals are most active. Animals that are active at dawn or dusk are often referred to as being crepuscular. Crepuscular literally means to be active in the twilight. Being active in the early morning makes sense for birds as they arouse from their night long fast. For mammals the early dawn offers them one last chance to snatch a meal before retiring for the day. At dusk birds can be seen flying to their roosts and many mammals begin to forage. Although I don’t mind taking a hike anytime I nearly always have my best wildlife encounters just before sunrise and just after sunset. Being crepuscular is great.

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