Sure, it looks like winter. A bit of shelter for mammals and birds, a few seeds to keep them alive through hard times, and brrrrr.
These are the vitamin and steroid sources under the canopy of grass that will enable quail and rodents to reproduce in the spring. Spring is too late for such important work to begin. That’s winter work. Unfortunately…
…nibbling on green shoots of cheatgrass will not lead to reproduction. So, look again:
The gopher that makes the mound creates the quail chicks of springtime. The timing is important, to avoid the mounds being seeded by grasses instead. And so above-ground and below-ground worlds meet.