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Explore the Great Outdoors - Winter Wildlife

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Winter is a time of rest for much of the wildlife living in and around our wetlands. Frogs and toads have settled into the mud for the cold winter ahead. The fish have moved to the deepest areas of water and will survive as long as the water doesn’t freeze completely. The dragonflies, butterflies, and other insects will spend the winter as nymphs, eggs or larva while the monarch butterflies enjoy the warm sunshine in Mexico.  The shallow water at our wetlands is frozen so the waterfowl have moved on to deeper, ice-free bodies of water. Some songbirds will fly south while others will stay and survive by eating seeds, nuts, and berries. The scream of a red tail hawk as its hunting is interrupted, lets one know that life is still present.

The latest snowfall makes it easy to spot the tracks of the animals that are still active in the winter. Field mice, also known as voles, scamper around in the snow looking for seeds. When the snow gets deeper they will tunnel under it to avoid being spotted by predators such as the red tail hawk and other raptors. Rabbit tracks are quite distinctive with their Y shape. They need to forage for grass, or branches of low growing shrubs during the winter to survive. Perhaps the tracks of the four-footed kind are man’s best friend or its close relative the coyote. Squirrels and raccoons will venture out on milder winter days, but spend most of the winter sleeping in hollow trees or burrows in the ground. 

Finding food in the winter is much more difficult for wildlife which is why many species have adapted to hibernation as a way to survive our cold and snowy weather. They eat large amounts of food in the fall to accumulate body fat and grow thick, warm fur to protect their bodies from the cold. Some people like to help feed the birds by putting out seeds and suet Ears of corn can be put out for the squirrels and deer if you want to bring them into your yard. Winters can be long and it is fun to watch the wildlife feed.

Take time this winter to explore the great outdoors!


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