With its low overall population density and portions of two national forests, Pendleton County and its surrounding area is home to a wide range of animal species. Perhaps the most diverse wildlife that we see and hear on the farm is our birds. A comprehensive listing of seasonal and year-round bird species common to the Monongahela National Forest can be found on the Guide to Pendleton County website. Also, for your convenience, we provide this link to a useful bird identification guide. During the winter months, our farm is commonly home to cardinals (our state bird), gold and house finches, nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, juncos, wrens, blue jays, titmice, mourning doves, and various woodpeckers. During the summer months, the cattails surrounding our peeper pond become a favored nesting site for large numbers of redwing blackbirds. Summer also is the season when vultures, hawks, and eagles can be found patrolling the skies over our farm. Many of them nest in Smoke Hole Canyon on the opposite side of Cave Mountain from our farm and hunt for food over the farmlands and fields in our valley. We also routinely see hummingbirds, robins, bluebirds, buntings, swifts, sparrows, ducks, owls, thrushes, verios, meadowlarks, mockingbirds, and warblers during the summer months. During the late spring and early summer evening hours, we are occasionally serenaded by the haunting calls of the whip-poor-wills in the surrounding forests.
White tailed deer is the most routine large animal visitor to Peeper Pond Farm. While they can be spotted in our field nearly every morning or evening (usually within 30 minutes of sunrise or sunset), we occasionally see them during the day. On any given day, we usually see between 3 and 10 deer crossing our farm on their way between the forest on Cave Mountain and the fields in our valley. We have also seen wild turkeys, groundhogs (woodchucks), raccoons, and skunks on our farm from time to time. Of course, our visiting skunks occasionally leave behind their own lasting impressions. Even black bears (our state mammal) have been spotted in Smoke Hole Legends and have left their scat in our driveway. Local farmers have told us that coyotes pose a threat to small and young livestock. They are known to be present in the National Forest, but we have yet to see any. Many local goat farm operators we have spoken to have advised us to keep a trained donkey, dog, or llama to alert us and defend our goats when coyotes are on the prowl. There have been no wolves in our area for over 100 years (as far as we know). However, accounts of mountain lion sightings (known in our region as panthers or catamounts) have been recorded within and around the Pendleton County sections of the Mongahela National Forest. While the presence of panthers in Pendleton County is entirely possible, they are most likely to be wandering transplants from the western mountains and not native cats to the area. Bobcats are also native to our area, but we have not seen or heard any to date. Fortunately, bears, panthers, and bobcats are reclusive predators that are not likely to be seen during daylight or when people are about.
Of course, frogs are abundant on our farm and in the neighboring ponds and streams. Although the spring peepers are most pronounced in our small pond during the mating season, which usually begins in early March, we can hear the spring mating calls of at least five different frog species rising from our pond. Our pond is also home to a number of Florida Box Turtles. During early summer nights (beginning in June and lasting well into July), fireflies appear in abundance along the edges of our field, creating a ground-level stellar display of floating lights.
Hear the spring peepers celebrate a rainbow at our farm – 5/7/18