Wild and Wintry - Searching for Animals During WintertimeJanuary 29th, 2009 by Ali
The following excerpt is taken from I Love Dirt by Jennifer Ward.
Cold winters are certainly a bit quieter than the summertime, regarding what’s out and about. It’s a less active time for many species that adapt to cold temperatures by seeking shelter or migrating to warmer climates. However, it’s not a completely vacant time in nature. Many animals remain active throughout the winter, even in the coldest temperatures. You need only look and see.
Have your children search for animals that are present in the wintertime, such as cardinals, owls, deer, squirrels, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, bunnies, foxes, and so on. Even though you may not see an animal, chances are you’ll see evidence that it has been around. The lack of foliage on trees makes spying a bit easier, however, and animals leave tracks and trails though the snow. Chances are you’ll have great luck finding wintry wildlife.
Look for evidence with your children, be it in your backyard, at a park, or throughout your neighborhood:
- Food caches, such as seeds and nuts. Look but don’t touch. Animals hid these food stores specifically to help them survive the winter, when less food is available.
- Chew marks. Many animals will nibble and eat bark from trees, since leaves are sparse. If you’re near a natural water source, beavers are probably burrowed in their dens, but chances are you can find evidence of their existence from chewed branches and logs.
- Tunnels and burrows in the snow.
- Sounds. Can you hear birdcalls? Squirrel chatter? A coyote’s howl?
Keep a journal of your discoveries, and use a sketchbook to render what you see.