Animal Life

Animals of Coniferous Forests

The cold winters accompanied by heavy snowfall make it difficult for animals to survive. Many birds migrate to warmer regions in winter, while the mammals may hibernate or develop heavy winter coats.
Mammals of the northern forests
Mammals found in the coniferous region include moose, deer, reindeer or caribou, mice and squirrels. Predators include wolves, lynxes, bears, foxes and wolverines. Wolverines are small, fierce carnivores that belong to the weasel and stoat family. Like the lynx, they have spread-out toes that enable them to move rapidly over deep snow without sinking.

Mammals have developed various ways to survive the icy winters. Some, like hares and foxes grow dense winter coats. Small shrews and voles burrow under the snow for warmth and live on stored food.

Other mammals, such as bears, hibernate, spending the winter asleep and living on fat reserves they built up in their bodies during the summer months. Moose and deer survive the winter by eating mosses, lichens and bark and the shoots of the few bushes that grow in the forest clearings and along the stream banks.

Birds of the northern forests
A few birds are permanent residents of the evergreen forest. They include woodpeckers, tits, crossbills, owls, hawks and grouse. The crossbill is a small finch with a peculiar crossed beak that it uses to tweak the seeds from pine or fir cones.

The lichens and mosses that grow on the trees harbour insects and snails and are favourite hunting grounds for flocks of small birds like tits.

When spring begins, the forests become home to thousands of insects. Swarms of mosquitoes and armies of caterpillars emerge and attract insect-eating birds like warblers that arrive from warmer climates to nest and raise their young while food is plentiful.

The northern shrike is a small predatory bird. It feeds mainly on frogs and grasshoppers in summer and finches and mice in winter.

Insects of the pine woods
Many species of insects are found here, including wasps, bees, and sawflies. Most of them spend the winter in pupae, buried either deep in the ground or inside tree trunks, where they provide food for woodpeckers.

Brown Bear. / ©: WWF
Brown Bear.
© WWF

Wildlife in Coniferous Forests

Woodpecker

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