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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

Many inhabitants of the forest feed on conifer seeds: woodpeckers, jays, crossbills, squirrels, chipmunks and other animals.

The natural territories of Moscow are dominated by conifers from the pine family: spruce, pine, larch and fir. Their seeds ripen in autumn and remain in the cones until spring, until the air warms up to plus 10 degrees.

In winter, the seeds of coniferous trees are a valuable food for many forest inhabitants: squirrels, jays, woodpeckers, crossbills, chipmunks, mice and others. These animals and birds not only eat the seeds, but also help spread them through the forest.

Also, cones have thermal insulation properties: in winter the roots are warm under them, and cool in summer. And they, gradually decomposing, enrich the soil with useful substances and serve as a natural feeding of plants.

Spruce cones love squirrels

Spruce cones grow at the very top, and therefore their seeds fly away. Young cones are green, later they turn red, and woody by autumn.

Squirrels prefer spruce cones: they rotate it around an axis, nibbling the scales and picking seeds from under them. The animal begins to separate the scales always from the thick end of the cone – from the petiole.

The squirrel’s main helpers are spruce crossbills. In the cones thrown by crossbills on the ground, the seeds are stored for more than a year. This happens because the buds lie on a wet carpet of mosses, tightly closing the scales. Usually, a bump that was picked off by a crossbill can be identified by the remaining part of the twig and needles.

The cones dropped during the frosty period plunge into loose snow, where vole mice find them. These animals gnaw the scales not as close to the stem of the cone as the squirrel does, so they leave it thicker.

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Woodpeckers and pine crossbills feast on pine seeds

Pine cones only grow on mature trees. They are much smaller and harder than spruce. The cones fall from the tree only after all the seeds have fallen out of them. Therefore, on the ground under the pine trees there are only empty cones.

Woodpeckers are lovers of pine and spruce seeds. Having plucked a cone from a tree, the great spotted woodpecker squeezes it into a crack in the tree with its tip up, and then bends the scales with its beaks and takes out the seeds. These empty buds are often seen under trees in winter.

Pine-tree crossbills also feast on pine seeds – they get them with their unusual beak. The presence of such food allows chicks to hatch even in winter. The cone treated with crossbill is distinguished by a large number of untouched scales and uncovered seeds.

What other cones can be found in natural parks

Larch is the only tree that sheds all its needles every autumn. Its cones are egg-shaped and smaller than spruce and pine. Larch seeds are a favorite delicacy of the white-winged crossbill, as well as other birds wintering in Moscow.

Fir looks very much like a spruce, but its needles are much softer and softer. Her cones always stand directly on the branches, like New Year’s candles. Quite long pointed tongues stick out from under each scale.

In black and gray alder, the seeds ripen in catkins similar to cones of conifers. For siskins and tap dancers, these nutritious seeds are the main food in winter.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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