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groovy mike's picture
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The Martin

I think the Martins are cool little critters. They're like pigmy wolverines!

 

From the NYS DEC website:

During the winter, American martens often visit bird feeders to eat the seeds and hunt the birds that visit the feeders. With a small body size and a high metabolism, martens are ravenous eaters, consuming squirrels, mice, chipmunks, birds, insects, seeds, and fruits. Often times, they tunnel through the snow in search of mice!

American Marten

Scientific name: Martes americana

The American marten (Martes americana), or marten, often incorrectly called the pine marten because of their close resemblance to their European relative, is a member of the mustelid family. The name mustelid came from the fact that members of this family have developed anal scent glands which produce a strong repellent smell that are often used to mark territories. Other members of this family that can be found in New York include fisher, ermine, weasel, mink, and the river otter.

Description

Marten are a small, slender bodied mammal with a long bushy tail that measure about one-third of their overall length. They have a pointed snout and large round ears in comparison to their head. Generally, the females are smaller than the males. They also have claws that are semi- retractable, just like a cat. The adult female will measure only 18-22 inches in length and weigh 1.5-1.8 pounds while the adult male will be around 20-25 inches in length and 1.6-2.8 pounds. Their fur is made up of long soft hairs. Fur coloring varies greatly between individuals from a pale buff- yellowish color to a reddish brown, with paler head and underparts and darker legs and a light colored throat patch . Marten are often confused with fisher, another member of the weasel family. The fisher can be found through out New York's marten range, is similar appearance and tracks, but the fisher is much large in size than the marten.

Habits

Marten are solitary mammals, avoiding their own kind except during mating season. Most active during the dusk and dawn hours, they are an arboreal species, spend the majority of their lives in and around mature spruce - fir coniferous forest, or a mixed hardwood, especially beech tree - coniferous forest. This type of environment provides ideal sites for them to den and also great habitat for their primary prey species the red squirrel. Here in New York, the vast majority of marten will be found in the High Peaks region of the Central Adirondacks and surrounding areas. Although they are very shy, marten are extremely curious creatures as well. The sighting reports that we receive from the public are usually encounters with marten staring in a window at them or siting on their seasonal cabin's porch.

Diet

The American Marten are omnivores. They do prey heavily on small mammals, especially red squirrels, but they are known to eat just about anything- birds, fish, frogs, insects, and carrion. Their diet also includes seasonal fruit, seed, and nuts crops like berries, and especially beech nuts.

Breeding Biology

Marten have polygynous mating habits, usually breeding with more than one partner. The male establishes his territory and defends it against all other male incursion. Marten breeding season occurs mid summer but the young are not born until late March to early April. This is because marten are part of a group of mammals that have the ability to delay the implantation of fertilized eggs. Even though the female's eggs are fertilized almost right away, the eggs will not become attach to the uterus wall and begin to develop until sometime in February. This is known as delayed implantation. Gestation is actually 42 days. The young or kits as they are correctly called, are born in late March to early April. Both blind and naked at birth, the kits grow rapidly and by about 3 months old they are fully grown. Shortly after that, their mother will leave them to fend for themselves and she will get ready to breed all over again. Marten normally reach sexual maturity around two years of age when they will undergo their first breeding season.

Tracks and Sign

The marten's foot has very large foot pads in relation to their body weight. This gives them a big advantage of being able to walk on deep snow that is very common in the Central Adirondacks. They grow longer hair between their foot pads in the winter which aids in keeping their feet warm. This hair often distorts the marten's track size. When snow tracking, you may find where a marten will travel "subnevean" or below the surface of the snow, in order to hunt small prey that have taken winter refuge in downed trees It is often difficult to tell the difference between a marten track and their close relative the fisher, especially in poor snow conditions

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Very cool looking animal.

Very cool looking animal. Never seen one in Colorado. Closest we have here are the ermines.

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There are pine martins here

There are pine martins here in Colorado but they are usually hard to find if you are not looking for them.  http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/Mammals/Marten.htm  I have seen quite a few of them while elk hunting.  Also the ermine or weasel are quite common http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/Mammals/Weasel.htm

They are both fun animals to watch as they go about their business looking for food as they scamper around on top of fresh fallen snow.   

groovy mike's picture
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yep!

Lots of folks confuse them with Fisher cats around here.  Both are so rare that folks in NY rarely see one let alone both.

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I have seen one here in

I have seen one here in Colorado myself. I usually hunt the lower elevation brush and that is not the place to find them. The one I saw was in the timber toward the top of Basalt mountain, I enjoyed watching him for about 20 minutes and he even ran up to about 3 feet away trying to figure out what I was. A very unique and interesting animal.

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I'll have to keep a better

I'll have to keep a better look out for them. I would like to see one.

groovy mike's picture
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not sure

I'm not sure how common they are.  I've seen them in Maine and in NY, so I assume that they are everywhere in between.  I've never seen one in the road or as roadkill only in the woods. Maybe they are fairly scarce?

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I only have ever seen one,

I only have ever seen one, and it was over 20 years ago.  i was actually picking fiddleheads and saw him working his way through the brush next to a stream.

Pretty cool little critters.

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