One of my favorite things to do while out in the forest is to find a comfy, moss covered log, sit and quietly listen. I like to map out where I am hearing sounds and what I think those sounds mean. A few years ago I read a suggestion that, while sound mapping, you take a moment to also imagine what things are happening in the forest that you cannot hear or see, but you know are transpiring. Things like trees growing, fungus spreading, ants burrowing, and weasels sleeping. I have become so enthralled by this practice that I now sometimes forget to actually listen and look, but spend my time imagining the unseen world of the forest and one of the major players in that forest here in southern Oregon is the Pacific Fisher.
Count yourself particularly lucky if you ever catch a glimpse of one out in the wild, as they are they nocturnal and secretive, and also extremely rare. As one of the largest members of the weasel family, Mustelidae, the pacific fisher is a fierce hunter and sly member of the forest community. They were trapped extensively in the 19th century for their furry pelt and one of their last suitable habitats exists here in the mountainous reaches of southern Oregon and northern California.
Fishers live primarily in heavily wooded, old growth coniferous forests, which are now greatly reduced and fragmented, and nest in rotten and downed logs. Fishers will eat just about anything they can catch, from rodents to birds and even fruit. They are also one of the only predators to regularly eat porcupines, which you can imagine is not easy prey!
So, the next time you find yourself with a quiet moment in the forest, spend some time thinking all of the wonders that are happening around you that make no sound and imagine where a pacific fisher may be nestled in a log or resting on a tree, anticipating the night to come.
Pacific Fisher: Martes pennanti pacifica
Size: 6.6-13.2lbs and 29-47 inches long
Habitat: closed canopy, old growth coniferous forests
Diet: birds, rodents, small mammals, fruit, porcupines
Moskowitz, David. 2010. Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. Timber Press. Portland, OR.