Acorns like these from a northern red oak were yielded in modest quantities this year, and likely because of drought, they dropped earlier than normal.

A vital grocery in the wildlife cupboard is acorns, and the success of the acorn crop in any given fall plays into how animals and birds live.

The abundance or shortage of acorns can even determine if critters live.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to or phone 270-575-8650.