We took a drive 2 weeks ago from Southern Ontario to a rural area in the Nipissing district of Ontario.
“Diver is a railway point and unincorporated place in the southwest corner of geographic La Salle Township in the Unorganized North Part of Nipissing District in Northeastern Ontario, Canada. It was created during the construction of the Ontario Northland Railway in the early 20th century.“
We wanted to take a fall hike in the area just before moose hunting season opened in the area, and my husband hoped to show me some partridge or ruffed grouse, maybe even a moose if we were lucky – and to throw a fishing line into one of the small peaceful lakes in the area for a little bit.
While the second wave of the pandemic had begun again in Ontario, we were happy to take a 4 hour drive in nice weather, and visit only with the wildlife.
In the early fall, partridges (which are members of the pheasant family) like to come out onto the gravel roadsides. They look to me something like a cross between a chicken and a pigeon.
During our long hike, we spotted 7 partridge posing along the gravel sideroad. Many birds swallow sand and gravel which helps them to dissolve and grind up food in their gizzard. The gizzard is a muscular part of their stomach – which contracts and grinds the pebbles against each other (called gastroliths) and against the food that the partridge has swallowed. The food gets ground down, and eventually the gastroliths get too smooth to be useful – and the partridge vomits them out and consumes more gravel!
We didn’t spot any moose, – perhaps they knew moose season was starting up soon – but we saw lots of tracks in the sand along the roadside.
In the meantime, our daughter was taking a drive from her fall and winter home in Banff Alberta up into Jasper National Park. Instead of getting ready for moose hunting season, the park was about to close the road she travelled (November 1), to allow the moose to roam unhindered. She spotted 8 moose lollygagging around the park during her one day drive.
This moose, like the Ontario partridges enjoys hanging out on the road – this time to lick the road salt. Enjoy the video!
If you watch the video, you can see a second moose roadside at the beginning and end.
When the cold weather hits, the roads are salted to prevent ice from forming, and the moose enjoy consuming the salt! It’s actually very dangerous to share the roads with moose, and so the closing of the highway in November protects drivers and wildlife!
So there you have the answer, some animals ingest gravel and sand to aid in their digestion, and some animals enjoy the road salt, and that’s why they cross the road. They also like to get to the other side.
Take care driving and happy November!
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