A week-by-week look at what is happening in nature.
A special thanks to Virginia Barlow’s Ginny’s Calendar in Northern Woodlands Magazine.
Redpolls often travel in large flocks, sometimes of over 100 birds / Both woodland jumping mice and meadow jumping mice hibernate below the frost line, curled in tight balls / Courtship activity of great horned owls gets underway / Chickadee flocks have a hierarchical structure and are stable, unlike the loose-knit flocks of most other small birds / The pyramidal old flower stalks of meadowsweet last through the winter, shedding small seeds over many months
Now a black bear’s heart will beat as few as five times per minute, compared to 60 times a minute when it is not hibernating / Gray treefrogs hibernate not far below the surface, under litter, logs, or rocks. Because they produce glycerol as antifreeze, they can tolerate a temperature of about 21°F for at least five days / In tunnels beneath the snow, meadow voles, shrews, red squirrels, deer mice, and moles are protected from bitter winter weather.
Most mammals sit tight during a snowstorm, tucked in their dens, warm and dry. Wait two days and the woods will be full of their tracks / Look for the paired tracks of fisher zigzagging along wooded edges and in the woods / Northern flying squirrels prefer evergreen woods; southern flying squirrels prefer hardwoods / The snowshoe hare is well named. Its furry feet are very large for its weight / A raven may commute over 50 miles daily to a good food source
If mice find their way into your house, weasels may come looking for them / Turtlehead, a flower of wet ground, keeps its stalks through the winter. Curiously, both the flowers and the opened seedpods look very much like a turtle’s head / Evening grosbeaks may be feeding in boxelders, the only maple to hold its seeds all winter / Bad weather will send American tree sparrows to birdfeeders. In normal times, they prefer self-reliance and feed on weed seeds