If your answer is- “I would look for nesting in an underground burrow.”
You are partially correct. Sometimes nests are found below ground in the voles’ burrow system.
However, vole nests are also built at ground level or on hummocks! Nesting outside the burrow allows voles to breed in seasonally-flooded areas where burrows would potentially be underwater like they are in some places along Glencoe Swale.
In either scenario, voles build their nests of grasses. I discovered this vole nest, quite by accident, while removing Reed Canarygrass during some riparian zone restoration on our property. After capturing a few photographs, the grasses were replaced, and the task of identification lead me to believe this is a litter of Townsend’s Voles.
Facts about Townsend’s Vole
- Young are ready to leave the nest after 15-17 days.
- One of the largest voles in North America (as long as 6 inches, with a short 2-3 inch long tail)
- Generations of voles will use the same pathways, sometimes creating 2 inch deep vole trails.
- These voles eat tender marsh and grassland vegetation.
- Because this species is abundant, it is significant to many predators- including: herons, owls, hawks, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, snakes.