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Something In The Air
11 x 14

The American marten (Martes americana), or pine marten, is a member of the mustelid family, related to otters and mink. Smaller than its closest relative, the fisher, pine martens are characterized by their buff colored faces, a striking difference from the russet and brown tinged fur over the rest of its body. Like other mustelids, they are known for scent marking their home range, which consists of a mix of conifer and hardwood forests. Agile climbers, they are often seen high up in the trees. 

Pine martens are solitary animals, mating in late summer. Females exhibit delayed implantation of the embryo until late winter, with 1-5 kits born in spring. They prefer to den in hollow trees, stumps, brush piles or rock piles. Martens feed primarily on small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, chipmunks and squirrels, but as opportunistic predators they will also eat birds, eggs, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects. 

At the turn of the 20th century, American pine marten populations were almost depleted due to the fur trade. Their pelts are prized for their softness, much like that of mink. Conservation efforts have allowed this species to rebound and they can now be found over most of Canada, Alaska and into the northern US. Deforestation, however, continues to threaten populations in many areas. 

I have been looking to find and photograph one of these elusive creatures for some time, with no luck. I am grateful to local photographer Joe Wilson who graciously allowed me to use his photo for reference for this piece. Climbing down a red pine tree, I imagine this marten catching a scent on the air, its tiny little nose twitching in anticipation. Such charming little mammals! 

Joe Wilson's photos can be seen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/joe_m_wilson