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Word of the Week: Midden
April 04, 2018 by Sammy Tangir

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Wednesday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

I stood under this spruce tree and watched as a red squirrel ate a Norway spruce cone (much like the way we eat corn-on-the-cob). As they munched away, the scales fell from the cone and landed in this large midden!

Midden [MID-n] (noun): A small pile of seeds, bones, or leaves gathered by mammals in the rodent family (such as squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and rats). For example, in High Park we often find middens of pine and spruce cone scales left over from red squirrels. The easiest place to look for middens is at the base of trees, but they can also be found near holes or animal tunnels!

UPDATE (April 10): We are always learning, and were excited to find out that middens are not exclusive to rodents: the term can be used to describe earthworms too! Nightcrawlers (deep burrowing earthworms) make middens at the entrance to their burrows. These middens are made of worm castings (excrement, or "poop") and plant residue. They are used for protection, as well as for food when needed. These middens are a great way to locate worms and are a sign of good soil health.

Sammy Tangir - Sammy is a serious nature nerd and especially enthusiastic about plants! When she is not thinking of next week's nature word, she is working as an outdoor educator and practicing her wood carving skills.

Sources are listed below and linked throughout the blog post.

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