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Hyperphagia and what it means for Colorado. An Open Discussion in the State of Colorado, 8/22/2022

Photo taken on a hike from an extreme distance. This was probably a target of hyperphagia, not a practitioner.

The Colorado State Open Thread is for anyone interested in Colorado, whether you live here, visit here, or have an interest in our square(ish) state. I hope you enjoy the journal and are interested in contributing in the comments below.

The word hyperphagia comes from the Greek term “hyper-” (meaning abundance, excess) and from the term “-phagy” (meaning food). That is, technically it translates as an increase in food intake produced by an increase in appetite (although the cause could be another).

Now that the highest peaks have had their first snowfall of the winter season, this is the time of year when hyperphagia is becoming an epidemic, especially in the high country of Colorado. Usually in our human-centered world, hyperphagia is considered a bad thing and generally something to be avoided. However, in the highland country of Colorado, it is a matter of life and death, but it is something to be admired and partake in, especially by our natural wildlife as they prepare for the long season, but very have little food, unless it is good. prepared for.

Bears are best known for stocking up on food before going into hibernation, but they’re certainly not alone. They forage 20 hours a day during this season, seeking 20,000 calories a day. My doctor certainly doesn’t recommend that diet, but it does work for bears. They are omnivores and will eat berries, insects, grubs, meat and carrion they find, as well as any food they find in cars, garbage cans, campsites, homes and picnic baskets.
Chipmunks hibernate in the winter, but they don’t sleep through the season. They retreat to their burrows and wake up every few days to raise their body temperatures to normal, feed on stored food rather than fat reserves, and urinate and defecate.
A bird like this hummingbird, small mobile mammals like bats and even some larger animals can’t reach the weight it takes with overeating to get through the winter, so they migrate to lower and even southern locations, sometimes outside the US, to find food in winter.
Large carnivores, such as this mountain lion, continue to hunt all winter. Their food supply usually remains in this area, but food supply can still become scarce.
A bobcat was initially hunting wabbits when going from right to left, and once successful it carried its prey when going from bottom to top (partially dragging the (not) wascaly (enough) wabbit.
Deer stay local. They, along with many other non-migrating animals, still work to shed the pounds so they have layers of fat for insulation and to provide energy when food supplies are harder to find in winter.
Recently, moose have followed their historic migration routes from the mountains – in the case of many Rocky Mountain National Park moose, they migrate to fields around Loveland, although they can still be found in snow zones.
Other creatures have multiple ways to adapt without overeating or migrating. Here’s one at Bird and Jim’s restaurant in Estes Park, New Year’s Eve, eating outside in the middle of a snowstorm.
They have even been known to store food for lean times when supplies are not so plentiful.
Some birds have adapted to using human generosity as a food source, although I’ve read that only about 10% of a bird’s diet comes from feeders.
Even squirrels take a free lunch where they can.

I don’t know if you’re practicing hyperphagia or not, but if you don’t, please find other ways to provide a food supply for the winter season. Here in Estes we usually have snow on the ground for 7-8 months of the year. If you do need to pack, please contact me if you are migrating to this area, even if just for a day or two, and I can see what I can do to help you.

Please add any comments, comments, or other ideas below. The floor is yours…

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