A squirrel enjoying a masting? Photo by Hills_Alive
The Albany Times-Union has an excellent write-up on the far-reaching ramifications of a masting, the awkward botanical term for a regional over-supply of acorns. Apparently, 2015 is a “masting” for the oak trees of the Northeast. (It does seem this way in my little corner of Queens, where walking under the gargantuan, smog-fed oak trees can leave one a little fearful of an acorn-related skull fracture.)
Why 2015? It seems to be related to optimal weather conditions, and the necessity is driven by survival: Acorns are so appealing to wildlife that oak trees have to over-compensate to guarantee a few won’t get eaten by critters.
“…Acorns are so tasty, such a nutritious food resource, so many animals like them, that if they produce a few every year every single one of them would be eaten up,” a biologist said.
And, at first this all sounds like a net positive: More acorns + more squirrels + more oak trees = more fodder for Squirrels, Squirrels, Squirrels.
But alas! There’s a dark side. We’ll not give away the spoiler, because the newspaper did all the hard work and we’re a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. So check it out for yourself: This year’s acorn cascade has hidden impact
And, in celebration of the masting, here’s some gorgeous pictures celebrating all things acorny.