On a cold and windy winter day, Sunday, February 24, a few hardy souls joined Master Naturalist Alex Singer for our 4th Sunday field trip in the Preserve. While the wind whistled around us, we looked for signs of life, and were surprised to see a number of brave-hearted squirrels high in the trees eating the available buds and a few chickadees and nuthatches lower to ground in search of tiny morsels of available food.
Alex's theme for the walk was appropriate for the weather—how animals spend their winter, and how they adapt to such radical and frequent changes in conditions. We searched for evidence of their presence, finding signs in the bushes, trees and snow, and mounds (or push-ups) in the cattails just off shore, visible proof that the muskrats are wintering in place. Of course, we discussed the impacts of climate change and some expected influences on the wildlife of the Preserve.
As is a trademark of Alex's outings, we were also treated to some suitable poetry. Aptly, Alex read one poem by Margaret Atwood entitled February and another by Tess Gallagher, Choices, that is quite thought-provoking for nature lovers. Peter Fisher, Friends host for this field trip, provided the summary.
If you want to find out more about how birds survive the winter, please visit Cornell Labs Citizen Science page on just that topic. Find out why a Chickadee's feet don't freeze.